Barium Swallow

Swallowing is one of the most complex neuromuscular functions of the body. It involves co-ordination of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and the oesophagus. 3 phases are involved during swallowing – the oral phase, pharyngeal phase and oesophageal phase. The oral phase is voluntary and controlled by the cortex. This phase prepares the bolus of food so that it is swallowable. The pharyngeal phase is involuntary and triggered by the bolus of food contacting the tonsillar pillars and the pharyngeal wall. It involves the high cortical centres, the brain stem centres and cranial nerves V (trigeminal), VII (facial), IX (glossopharyngeal), XI (vagus) and XII (hypoglossal). The oesophageal phase is controlled by the brainstem and myenteric plexus. Food moves down by a peristaltic wave beginning in the pharynx and ending at the lower oesophageal sphincter.

View Patient Q & A

  • Drooling
  • Choking
  • Nasal regurgitation
  • Voice change
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Unexplained weight loss

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