Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Swallowing Study
A swallowing study is a test that shows what your throat and esophagus do while you swallow. The test uses X-rays in real time (fluoroscopy) and records what happens when you swallow. While you swallow, the doctor and speech pathologist watch a video screen.
For a swallowing study, you will swallow liquid mixed with a substance called barium. Or you might swallow solid foods coated with barium.
The barium shows the movements of your throat and esophagus on the X-ray while you swallow.
The test helps your doctor see why you're having trouble swallowing.
Tell your doctor if:
Your doctor may tell you not to eat anything after midnight the night before the test.
The barium liquid is thick and chalky, and some people find it hard to swallow. A sweet flavor, like chocolate or strawberry, is used to make it easier to drink.
After the test, you may feel bloated and a little nauseated.
The barium in the food is not harmful.
Some people gag when they drink the barium fluid. In rare cases, a person may choke and inhale (aspirate) some of the liquid into the lungs.
There is a small chance that the barium will block the intestine or leak into the belly through a perforated ulcer.
If your doctor thinks you may be at risk for complications, he or she may use a special type of contrast material (Gastrografin) instead of barium.
There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, even the low level of radiation used for this test.
A swallowing study is a test that lets your doctor see what your throat and esophagus do while you swallow. The barium shows the movements of your throat and esophagus on the X-ray while you swallow.
The throat and esophagus look normal while you swallow. They do not have swelling, an injury, narrowing, or foreign objects.
The throat and esophagus don't look normal while you swallow. The test shows swelling, an injury, narrowing, or foreign objects that make it hard to swallow.
You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
Current as ofMarch 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicinePeter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
Current as of:
March 28, 2019
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.