What to Expect During an Aerodigestive Visit

When you visit the Aerodigestive Center at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, you can expect child-centered care.

You will meet with a team of experts in both common and complex children's breathing and swallowing issues.

Contact the Aerodigestive Center at UPMC Children's Hospital

With basic questions, call our main ENT office at 412-692-5460.

To make an appointment, call 412-692-7337.

Before Your Child's Visit to the Aerodigestive Center

Your child's doctor will refer your child to us. Once we receive it, we'll contact you to set up the appointment.

We'll ask for your insurance details if we don't have it on file. This way, we can check that your health plan will cover the range of services we offer.

Based on your child's medical history, we may already know we will do certain tests or treatments. In these cases, we'll send instructions about any restricted diet your child may need before the appointment. If you don't receive such instructions, your child can eat and drink as usual.

We urge you to write down vital information about your child's breathing or swallowing symptoms, such as:

  • When they started.
  • How often they occur.
  • What seems to trigger them.
  • How they affect your child day to day.

You should also write down a timeline of past diagnoses and treatments. It helps our team get a full picture of your child's health.

During Your Child's Visit at the Aerodigestive Center

Your 1st visit may last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.

We can't always predict how long a visit will take, as it will depend on your child's specific condition and needs.

We suggest that you bring snacks, water, and entertainment, such as books or a tablet with earphones.

The visit will often start with a thorough review of your child's:

  • Health
  • Prior surgeries
  • Medications

We'll ask detailed questions about your child's symptoms, when they arise, and how they affect your child.

During the visit, your child may meet different members of our team such as a:

  • Speech-language pathologist
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Surgeon

All our team members are experts at calming your child's worries by speaking to them in an age-appropriate way.

We may ask your child to perform some breathing, speech, or swallowing functions.

The doctor may also conduct a noninvasive exam. We may use a flexible scope through your child's nose to check the nose, throat, and voice box.

Based on this first assessment, one of our health team members may diagnose your child's condition and discuss treatment.

More often, the doctor will order tests to ensure an accurate diagnosis. These tests may occur on the same day or in the coming weeks.

Breathing or swallowing tests during or after the visit

Once our experts narrow down your child's problem, they may order tests to see inside the airway or esophagus.

Your child may need anesthesia so that we can do the test in a safe and painless way. Our anesthesiologists are experts at giving safe and effective anesthesia to kids with complex breathing or swallowing issues.

We aim to minimize the number of times your child will need to have anesthesia.

Sometimes we will need to do a few diagnostic tests. If so, we bring many team members together in the operating room so we can do all tests at the same time.

After Your Child's Visit to the Aerodigestive Center

We will schedule follow-up visits, as needed, to discuss any test results and treatments.

Treatments for your child's breathing or swallowing disorder may include:

  • Prescribed drugs
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Surgery

We will create a complete treatment and management plan to meet your child's and family's unique needs.