Evaluation and Treatment

Multidisciplinary Swallowing Disorders Center


Your Care at Stanford

Why is a multidisciplinary evaluation right for me?

For patients with more complex or difficult-to-manage swallowing problems, a multidisciplinary team can provide comprehensive assessment of the swallowing mechanism from the mouth to the stomach. Our team includes an otolaryngologist (ear nose and throat specialist), gastroenterologist (digestive specialist), a speech language pathologist (rehabilitative specialist), and a registered dietician (nutrition specialist). These experts will consult with you during a single clinic visit to devise the most appropriate, comprehensive treatment approach, which may include rehabilitative therapy, medication, and/or surgery.

What happens during a visit to the Stanford Multidisciplinary Swallowing Disorders Center?

  • A Modified Barium Swallowing (MBS) study will be performed by the speech pathologist and radiologist in the morning as the first diagnostic test.
  • You will then consult with the speech pathologist, gastroenterologist, and otolaryngologist in the afternoon for further evaluation and discussion about possible treatments.  If needed, our registered dietician will meet with you to discuss nutritional needs.
  • During this integrated visit, you will complete a Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) to evaluate your throat and a Transnasal Esophagoscopy (TNE) to evaluate your esophagus. 
  • Additional tests may be ordered as necessary. Our team will review the results of your comprehensive assessment and offer treatment solutions.

How will my swallowing be evaluated?

Because the swallowing system includes multiple structures, it may be evaluated in a number of ways including:

How is dysphagia treated?

The treatment of dysphagia depends on the underlying cause of dysphagia. Depending on your particular case, treatment may include:

  • Exercises to strengthen swallowing muscles or to improve the coordination of your swallow
  • Procedures to stretch narrow areas of the swallowing passage
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Diet modifications like avoiding harder to swallow solid foods or thickening liquids
  • Compensatory strategies that help the food and liquid to go down more quickly and/or safely

An example of a procedure to stretch a narrow area of the swallowing passage.