What tests are used to diagnose aspiration?
A range of tests may be used to diagnose aspiration, including a swallow study and flexible and rigid bronchoscopy. A modified barium swallow study uses X-rays to make a video of your child eating and drinking various foods and liquids. This allows providers to examine the anatomy in your child's mouth and throat as well as his or her swallowing technique. The child is awake during the swallow study.
A flexible bronchoscopy.pdf is a procedure that allows pulmonary specialists to see your child's respiratory system. This is done by inserting a tiny video camera attached to a small flexible tube into your child's airways. Providers will be able to see any structural abnormalities that may contribute to aspiration; in some cases providers may be able to see evidence of aspiration in the airways. A rigid bronchoscopy is a procedure completed by an ENT specialist to check the size of the airway and make sure there is no abnormal connection with the food tube.
Download the Patient Informed Consent for Bronchoscopy in English.
Download the Patient Informed Consent for Bronchoscopy in Spanish.
How do providers at Children's Hospital Colorado make a diagnosis?
First, our doctors take a complete patient history, including information about your child's birth, such as gestational age and weight at birth.
Providers will also ask about your child's growth pattern, feeding history and breathing problems. They may ask specific questions about problems that occurred during feeding transitions, for example, transitioning to using a spoon, cup, or baby food.
They will also look at your child's current feeding schedule, typical foods and any symptoms that occur while eating.
Our healthcare providers will do a physical exam, focused on the head, neck, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. They may perform a series of tests including a swallow study, a specialized test to look for reflux, and/or a bronchoscopy. The exact method of making a diagnosis will depend on the underlying problem causing your child's aspiration.