What to Expect During a Voice, Resonance, and Swallowing Center Visit

If your child has a vocal cord or swallowing disorder, we can help. Our center at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is the first of its kind.

We offer the latest tests and treatments to help your child get better.

Here's how to get ready for and what to expect at your child's first visit with us.

Contact the Voice, Resonance, and Swallowing Center

Most kids visit our center after their doctors refer them to us.

Your doctor can refer your child to us for diagnosis, a second opinion, or treatment. Or you can call us to learn more about our services and book your child's appointment.

To refer a child or make your child's appointment, call 412-692-5460.

Before Your Child's Visit to the Voice, Resonance, and Swallowing Center

If a doctor referred your child to us, we'll call you once we receive it and book an appointment. You can also make your child's appointment at the Voice, Resonance, and Swallowing Center by calling 412-692-5460.

Before your visit, we'll call and ask you about your child's symptoms and past medical care.

If your child has swallowing issues, we may ask you to bring food or drinks that your child likes. This will be helpful for a swallowing test.

We accept most health insurance plans at UPMC Children's Hospital.

At times, we may ask your health plan to approve your child's visit ahead of time. This is to make sure they'll cover your child's care and help avoid issues when you arrive.

Plan to get to the center 20 minutes before your visit so you have ample time to park and find us.

During Your Child's Voice, Resonance, and Swallowing Center Visit

Your child's visit will often start with the ENT doctor who will:

  • Review your child's symptoms.
  • Ask about any past treatments of your child's symptoms.
  • Ask about emotional or lifestyle factors that affect your child's voice.

The doctor will then look at your child's nasal passage and throat using a flexible scope with a camera to look for:

  • Any structural issues.
  • Muscle movement.
  • Lesions or other problems.

Your child won't need anesthesia for this test, and the doctor does it right in the center.

In some cases, the doctor will order a biopsy to take a small sample of your child's throat tissue for testing.

To avoid any pain from a biopsy, your child will be under general anesthesia. The doctor does this test in the OR on the same day or at a later date, based on availability.

Testing for voice and resonance conditions

Next, your child will meet with the speech therapist.

If your child has a voice or resonance condition, the speech therapist will:

  • Use computer technology to assess pitch and loudness.
  • Suggest a soft mask device that records the airflow and air pressure while they talk.
  • Touch your child's head and neck as they speak to feel how the muscles are moving.

These tests help the speech therapist better learn your child's challenges and cater treatment techniques to your child.

Testing for swallowing conditions

If your child has swallowing issues, the speech therapist may want to do a feeding assessment. Your child will eat and drink as the therapist looks for signs of a swallowing disorder.

As a center that cares solely for children, we do all tests in a kid-friendly manner. We're sensitive to the unique needs of children and their families.

Your child's care team may share the diagnosis and treatment options with you in the first visit. Or they may want to do further testing, or try out a treatment for a suspected diagnosis.

After Your Child's Visit to the Voice, Resonance, and Swallowing Center

Sometimes your child will need advanced imaging or another test that we can't do on the same day. In this case, we'll ask you to come back to the center for your child's test soon after the first appointment.

Before your test date, we'll give you details about what your child can eat and drink the day of the test.

Depending on your child's diagnosis, we may suggest medicine, surgery, or speech therapy.

We often use more than one treatment for a better outcome for your child.

We'll continue to check on your child to make sure the treatments work as expected and address any issues or concerns.

As many families travel to see us, we'll work to combine our services you need for added convenience.