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The Modified Barium Swallow Study and Esophageal Screening: A Survey of Clinical Practice Patterns

Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2023 Mar 14:1-18. doi: 10.1044/2022_AJSLP-22-00022. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Modified barium swallow study (MBSS) is a videofluoroscopic evaluation of oropharyngeal swallowing. Views of esophageal bolus flow during MBSS are permitted under speech-language pathology practice guidelines. However, controversy exists over its implementation. Poor consensus and limited practice guidance may lead to clinical practice variations. Aims of the investigation were to (a) describe current practice patterns of speech-language pathologist visualizing bolus flow through the esophagus during the MBSS, (b) understand areas of variation when incorporating esophageal visualization during the MBSS, and (c) determine clinicians’ willingness to modify MBSS procedures to include esophageal imaging.

METHOD: A web-based survey (Qualtrics XM) consisting of 26 questions was distributed via web posting and e-mail to members of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Special Interest Group 13 and Dysphagia Café. The survey was open for 3 months. Descriptive and associative statistics were completed. Field-testing was performed prior to dissemination of the survey to address content validity.

RESULTS: A total of 321 individuals participated; 265 responses were used for analysis. Ninety-three percent of respondents viewed the esophagus during the MBSS. Twelve percent followed to the proximal esophagus, 15% to the mid esophagus, 66% to the lower esophagus, and 6% to varied levels. Variability was also reported in contrast type, volume administered, and nomenclature used. Interestingly, few people (3.61%) disagreed that esophageal visualization should be performed during MBSS.

CONCLUSIONS: Speech-language pathology respondents in this study visualize contrast flow through the esophagus and are enthusiastic about expanding the standard MBSS. However, results of the survey demonstrate a lack of uniformity in assessment practices. Unfortunately, this may impact the diagnostic accuracy and clinical utility when adding esophageal visualization to the MBSS. This study highlights the need for a standardized protocol and identifies current barriers and controversies that may prevent expanding the MBSS to more comprehensively evaluate individuals with dysphagia.

PMID:36917803 | DOI:10.1044/2022_AJSLP-22-00022

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