The specialists at UT Southwestern’s Clinical Center for Voice Care provide comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic services for a variety of swallowing problems, including those related to head and neck cancer following radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery, and neurological problems such as stroke, brain injury, Parkinson’s Disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Our specially trained physicians and therapists have the knowledge and experience to provide patients with an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of all types of swallowing disorders.
Swallowing disorders treated include:
- Aspiration, or food going down the windpipe
- Difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia
- Food or liquids getting stuck in the throat
- Pain or tightness with swallowing
- Radiation therapy-related problems related to treatment for head and neck cancer
- Weakness with swallowing
- Zenker’s diverticulum, a pouch that develops in the walls of the lower throat
Our Voice Care specialists will perform one or more diagnostic tests, including:
- Clinical Swallow Evaluation
- Shows how the muscles in your face and throat work, how you swallow different foods and liquids, and how it relates to your medical history
- Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)
- Uses a flexible endoscope to evaluate the
movement of the inside of the throat during swallowing
- Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Evaluations
- Analyzes patient response to various textures and consistencies of food to swallow; each swallow is analyzed; also known as Modified Barium Swallow Studies (MBS)
If the specialist finds problems during the MBS or FEES evaluations, therapeutic maneuvers can be implemented and the effects evaluated in real time.
Once the evaluation is complete, the specialist will present the patient with an individualized treatment plan.
Treatment plans may include:
- Behavioral intervention
- Botox injections for spasmodic dysphonia
- Changes in diet to decrease the risk of aspiration pneumonia
- Laser surgery for the vocal folds, larynx, and trachea
- Microsurgery of the vocal folds
- Modifications to eating or swallowing behaviors
- Office-based procedures, including in-office vocal fold injections
- Perceptual and objective evaluation and care of the speaking and singing voice
- Therapeutic exercises
- Thyroplasty and vocal fold augmentation
- VitalStim therapy, a non-invasive, painless treatment using electrical stimulation to strengthen the muscles used in swallowing