Data Quality

Videofluoroscopy Clinic

Videofluoroscopy is an instrumental swallow assessment using X-Rays. It is used to look at the patterns of movement during swallowing and can help to identify what may be contributing to any difficulties. It also shows which types of food or drink are the easiest or safest for you to have.

Why do I need a videofluoroscopy?

You may have been assessed by a doctor or a speech and language therapist who feels that your swallow has either changed or that some foods or fluids are becoming more difficult to swallow. 

A videofluoroscopy can show:

  • Difficulties with chewing or moving food around in your mouth.
  • Food or drink getting ‘stuck’ in your mouth or throat.
  • Food or drink ‘going down the wrong way’ into your lungs (aspiration).
  • Any exercises or techniques which may make your swallow safer or easier.
  • If it is safe to increase the amount or type of food or drink you are already having. 

The procedure will identify your specific difficulty with swallowing which will allow the speech and language therapist to make an individual management plan. 

What happens during a videofluoroscopy assessment?

  • You will be asked to sit or stand between the x-ray screens.
  • The speech and language therapist will give you small amounts of different consistencies of food and drink to swallow.
  • The food and fluids will be mixed with a contrast so that it can be seen on the x-ray.
  • The type of food and fluids you will be asked to swallow will depend on the difficulties you are experiencing.
  • The whole procedure usually lasts around thirty minutes.


Is the procedure safe?

  • The assessment uses low levels of radiation – equal to about 2-3 weeks of ‘background’ radiation (which we are all naturally exposed to in the environment).
  • The amount of contrast given during a videofluoroscopy is very small and suction equipment is available if you are unable to swallow at any time. 
  • The contrast used in clinic is a barium sulphate suspension such as Baritop 100. If the speech and language therapist is concerned that there is a high risk of aspiration, then a water soluble contrast, such as Gastromiro, is used. 
  • If you eat a special diet, for example gluten or dairy free, please advise the speech and language therapy team at the Royal Surrey hospital ahead of your appointment so that this can be accommodated for within the assessment. 

What happens afterwards?

  • Results of your x-ray may be explained to you on the day of your examination by the speech and language therapist; however they may need to review the x-ray in more detail before confirming any final recommendations or advice. 
  • You may wish to have a relative or friend with you – particularly if you have difficulty remembering information or if they help you to prepare your meals or drinks.
  • A written report of the videofluoroscopy will be sent to you, your GP and the person who referred you for the procedure. You may need to see them again following the videofluoroscopy to discuss any changes to your management.

How are referrals received for videofluoroscopy?

Inpatient Referrals:

  • A medical referral is needed before a videofluoroscopy can be booked. 
  • You will be informed as to the time and date of your videofluoroscopy and a porter will bring you from the ward to the X-ray department. 

Outpatient Referrals: 

  • Requests for outpatient/ community videofluoroscopies are accepted from hospital consultants or GPs. 
  • Once the referral has been received and approved by the speech and language therapy team, an appointment will be made for you. 
  • You will receive a letter with more information about the date, time and place. 
  • You should contact the X-Ray department if you think you may be pregnant as your appointment may need to be changed or cancelled. 

Contact us

Speech and Language Therapy department:

Telephone: 01483 571 122 

Extension: 4680 

X-Ray Appointments: 

Telephone: 01483 571 122

Extension: 6646