Modified Barium Swallow

A Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) is often part of the swallowing treatment regime.

Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) Studies

Modified Barium Swallows are conducted at our X-ray department. In collaboration with the Radiologists and radiographers at Little Company of Mary, we assess the physiology of the swallowing process and based on our findings a treatment plan is developed, to specifically address and remediate the patient’s swallowing difficulties. Read more …

Why a Modified Barium Swallow Study?

Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) studies are performed by radiology and speech-language pathology. The Modified Barium Swallow study is the best way to assess whether a patient is aspirating. Of course, the main intent of the study is not to rule out or confirm aspiration, but understand the functioning of the swallowing mechanism so as to plan an appropriate treatment plan specific to the patient’s needs. In so doing, it also assists in determining the type(s) or texture(s) of food a patient can take without aspiration. It also helps to determine any postural changes or compensatory techniques which might be needed to allow the patient to eat or drink safely.

Questions and answers about the Modified Barium Swallow


Can I eat before the assessment?

Yes, you can eat prior to the study.

How long will the study take?

Once you are in the X-ray suite, the study should take no longer than 30 minutes.
We will make every effort to keep your waiting time to a minimum.
If you are an out-patient, put aside an hour to conduct the entire procedure since you will have to fill in your details at reception. Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment to complete the forms at X-rays.

What does the study involve?

You’ll be given small amounts of liquid to drink, a pudding-like texture to eat, and a cookie to swallow while video x-rays are taken. All the products are immersed in Barium, to enable visibility during the X-ray. If there are particular foods that cause you difficulty like dry foods or pills, you may be asked to try to swallow them.

While you are seated, both a side view and a front view will likely be conducted.

When will I know the results?

The speech-language pathologist will consult with you immediately after the study to tell you what was seen and make recommendations. Your physician (and speech-language pathologist if you are already being treated by one) will be called by the speech therapist and the procedure will be carefully explained to your doctor.

Can my family observe?

We are happy to have one member of your family accompany you and observe the study.

Who can I call if I have more questions?

Contact the Speech-Language Therapists at the Groenkloof Hospital, namely
Megan Barnes (082 5000 505)
We will be happy to answer any questions.