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Radiol Med. 2006 Sep;111(6):818-27. Epub 2006 Aug 11.

Role of videofluorography swallow study in management of dysphagia in neurologically compromised patients.

[Article in English, Italian]

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  • 1Unità Operativa di Radiologia "Domenico Noto", Azienda Ospedali Civili Riuniti "Giovanni Paolo II", Sciacca, Italy.



The aim of this study was to demonstrate the key role of the videofluorography swallow study (VFSS) in the management of patients with dysphagia and varying degrees of neurological deficit.


In 1 year (March 2004-March 2005) 47 patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia due to different types of neurological deficit and who required rehabilitation were studied. All patients underwent: (1) clinical history assessment, (2) speech therapy assessment and (3) VFSS using digital fluoroscopy (25 frames per second). Patients were divided according to the Waxman classification into seven levels of dysphagia, and the most suitable type of feeding was selected (normal diet, restricted diet, artificial nutrition). At discharge, the possibility of changing the dietary regimen followed in hospital was evaluated based on clinical progress, radiological follow-up and the degree of improvement obtained.


VFSS confirmed aspiration in 21/47 (44%) patients, of whom four (8%) had not been suspected at clinical-speech therapy assessment. In 13/47 (28%) patients, VFSS identified changes at the oral (three patients) or pharyngeal stage (three patients) or both (seven patients) but with no signs of silent aspiration. In the remaining 13 (28%) patients, VFSS did not show any changes in swallow dynamics. On the basis of these data, together with the follow-up at the end of rehabilitation treatment, different nutritional strategies were adopted: artificial nutrition [percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) or nasogastric tube], a restricted-consistency diet or normal diet.


Our experience shows that VFSS precisely classifies the degree of dysphagia that conditions the dietary management of each neurologically compromised patient.

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