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Dysphagia. 2013 Jun;28(2):245-52. doi: 10.1007/s00455-012-9441-x. Epub 2013 Feb 14.

Matching the rheological properties of videofluoroscopic contrast agents and thickened liquid prescriptions.

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  • 1Nestlé Research Center, Nestec Ltd, Vers-chez-les-Blanc, Switzerland.


In the treatment of oropharyngeal dysphagia, the link between diagnosis and prescription of thickened liquids that are safe to swallow is not always straightforward. Frequently, the capacity to objectively assess and quantify the rheological properties of diagnostic test fluids and to select "rheologically equivalent" dietary products is missing. Perhaps sometimes the importance of an objective comparison is not fully appreciated because two liquids seem reasonably similar in a subjective comparison (e.g., flow from a spoon). The present study deals with some of these issues. Shear viscosity measurements were used to characterize the flow behavior of videofluoroscopic contrast agents and of thickened fluids prepared with commercial thickening agents. Effects of time and composition of the different fluids were analyzed regarding shear-rate-dependent viscosity. Nearly all materials tested showed a pronounced dependence of viscosity with shear rate ("shear thinning"). Results confirm that it is feasible (but not always straightforward) to "match" the viscosities of diagnostic fluids and thickened beverages if certain precautions are taken. For example, the time required to reach final viscosity levels can be significant for some thickeners, particularly when used with liquids containing contrast agents. It is recommend to use only diagnostic materials and thickening agents for which reliable viscosity data are available.

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