Toronto General- Swallow Study X-Ray

“A swallow study is a type of x-ray test to help determine whether or not foods and liquids are going down the correct way. They mix the food or liquid with a substance called barium which helps it to show up/be more visible on the screen.”

On March 30th, 2021, we headed up to Toronto at around 9am. Instead of going to my usual hospital (SickKids), we were scheduled for a Swallow Study/ X-ray at the Toronto General Hospital. As most of you know, last month when I was at SickKids, I was given a swallow study and scope to determine why I was having trouble swallowing. Once again, this swallow study occurred because I have been having some troubles with swallowing food and liquid (especially water). My SickKids doctor worked together with the swallow professionals at Toronto General to provide their expertise.

During the x-ray study, I swallowed many different substances and solids that varied in texture and thickness. Everything was mixed with barium to show up in the x-ray and some of the liquids had added thickener to portray different consistencies. After the study occurred, they said it went better then expected and didn’t see too many major issues. Although since the x-ray took 30 frames per second, they would need time to go through and examine each frame individually.

Just over a week later, after they were able to look more closely, they scheduled a zoom meeting to go over the results. She explained that because of the trauma, constant surgeries and reconstruction that I’ve had on my airway, it has had an impact on my swallowing. Although, to surgically repair issues with swallowing could then impact my breathing. Breathing is #1! During the study they had me face forward so they could see my esophagus from the front. A typical esophagus would be straight all the way down, but because of all the damage I’ve had, mine is more crooked. She also showed us a diagram of how food should be swallowed and the muscles and bones that work together in order for it to go smoothly. As well as a short video from my study. She said that there was a delay in my epiglottis which is why I was having trouble with thinner liquids. With thicker foods, it gave my throat time to prepare to swallow but with thin liquids they go down too fast which means the closure of my epiglottis was delayed causing it to go down the wrong way (into my airway). Not to say I don’t choke on food, because it sometimes manages to sneak its way through as well but minimally. In order for decannulation, they want to ensure that food is consistently going the proper way and that the risk is low. She asked me to keep a journal of my episodes to have a baseline and see if things change. It definitely has improved since January when the stent was removed. She also recommended that I pause before swallowing liquids, which I usually do anyways.

Overall, we were provided with a great in-depth report and detailed explanation of how my swallowing works. We also had a great experience with Toronto General and are very thankful for the fantastic care and support I was given. Now, in two weeks we will meet back with my SickKids doctor to hear his thoughts.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Keep Smiling- Zoe xo ❤

2 thoughts on “Toronto General- Swallow Study X-Ray

  1. What a great learning experience this swallowing study has been. The journaling about the episodes in itself should help develop a greater awareness of what is happening. Best of luck preparing yourself for the next steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I appreciate it 🙂


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