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Dysphagia. 2014 Feb;29(1):78-82. doi: 10.1007/s00455-013-9485-6. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Effects of barium concentration on oropharyngeal swallow timing measures.

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Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, 550 University Avenue, #12-125, Toronto, ON, M5G 2A2, Canada.


Videofluoroscopy is commonly used for evaluating oropharyngeal swallowing but requires radiopaque contrast (typically barium). Prior studies suggest that some aspects of swallowing, including timing measures of oral and pharyngeal bolus transit, vary depending on barium concentration. The aim of our study was to identify timing differences in healthy swallowing between "thin" (40 % w/v concentration) and "ultrathin" (22 % w/v concentration) barium solutions. Twenty healthy adults (Ten women; mean age = 31 years) each performed a series of three noncued 5-ml swallows each of ultrathin and thin liquid barium solutions in videofluoroscopy. Timing measures were compared between barium concentrations using a mixed-model ANOVA. The measures of interest were stage transition duration, pharyngeal transit time, and duration of upper esophageal sphincter opening. Significant differences were observed in the timing measures of swallowing with respect to barium concentration. In all cases, longer durations were seen with the higher barium concentration. Barium concentration influences timing parameters in healthy swallowing, even between ultrathin and thin concentrations. Clinicians need to understand and control for the impact of different barium stimuli on swallowing physiology.

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