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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.
A modified barium (BARE-ee-um) swallow, or cookie swallow, is an X-ray test that takes pictures of your child’s mouth and throat while he or she swallows various foods and liquids.
There are several reasons why this test may be prescribed, including:
These problems may be caused by food or liquid going into the airway after being swallowed.
The modified barium swallow is done at the Department of Pediatric Radiology of UPMC Children’s Hospital. You will begin the appointment by meeting with a speech/language specialist, who is specially trained in swallowing disorders, to discuss your concerns about your child’s swallowing problems and answer any questions you may have about the test. The modified barium swallow will be done in a fluoroscopy (floor-OS-co-pee) room with:
In the room, you will see an X-ray machine, a television screen and a special chair. You might explain to your child that the X-ray machine is a large camera for taking pictures that will be shown on the television.
As a parent, you may have concerns about radiation exposure. UPMC Children’s takes every precaution to make sure your child is safe.
We welcome your help and support during this test. Parents or guardians are invited to join your child in the X-ray room. Other children can wait in the waiting room, or the Lemieux Sibling Center if siblings are ages 3 to 12 who are toilet trained. We also welcome your child’s community feeding therapists (such as a speech pathologist or an occupational therapist) to come to the appointment to share information and to hear the results of the test.
The speech/language specialist will show you where to stand in the examination room and will guide you during the test. Please follow the instructions of the medical staff performing the modified barium swallow test.
The swallow study itself takes about 15 minutes. After the study, you will meet with the speech/language specialist to discuss the results of the test and answer any questions you may have. You may be given recommendations to help improve the way your child eats and drinks, as well as for follow-up appointments.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at UPMC Children’s before the test. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.
Before you come to the hospital, explain to your child what will happen in words that he or she can understand. Preparing your child beforehand, as well as comforting your child during the test, will help your child have a more positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain tests to children. If you have any questions about ways to prepare or support your child, or you feel your child will have difficulty during the test, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children's and ask to speak with the Child Life Specialist.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
With myCHP, you can request appointments, review test results, and more.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Support the hospital by making a donation online, joining our Heroes in Healing monthly donor program, or visiting our site to learn about the other ways you can give back.