The experts at NYU Langone’s Voice Center provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treating dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing. The severity of this condition ranges from mild to a life-limiting disability, and it may lead to dehydration, malnourishment, and pneumonia. Our doctors work closely with you and your family to determine a personalized dysphagia treatment plan.
Our goal is to find the precise cause of swallowing difficulties to improve your quality of life so you can enjoy eating again. Our team of laryngologists, pulmonologists, and gastroenterologists collaborate on a complete evaluation of the esophagus, mouth, throat, and vocal cord muscles to determine any structural or functional issues that may affect swallowing. These are some of the potential causes of dysphagia:
- autoimmune, neurological, and pulmonary disorders
- esophageal cancer
- gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD
- head and neck cancer
- laryngopharyngeal reflux disease, or LPR, when stomach acid travels to the throat
- stricture, the narrowing of an organ
To confirm a diagnosis of dysphagia, we use on-site testing methods that include the following:
- barium swallow study and videofluoroscopic swallow study, in which an X-ray is taken of the mouth, neck, and chest to evaluate abnormalities in the swallowing mechanism or digestive tract
- flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing, which uses a fiberoptic endoscope in the throat to visualize the actual swallow in progress
- transnasal esophagoscopy, the insertion of an endoscope through the nose to the stomach
If additional testing is needed, we collaborate with doctors at NYU Langone’s Center for Esophageal Health to perform the following studies:
- esophageal manometry, the placement of a thin catheter into the esophagus to measure movement and pressures during swallowing
- pH testing, to evaluate patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease and laryngopharyngeal reflux disease by monitoring acid exposure within the esophagus and voice box
Following diagnosis, we consult with our voice and swallowing therapists, physiatrists, and head and neck surgeons to determine your optimal treatment plan. Our doctors spend considerable time discussing your care, which may include dietary and exercise recommendations, body repositioning while eating, prescription medications, surgery, and rehabilitative services.
For more information about dysphagia treatment, please call 646-754-1207 or email VoiceCenter@NYULangone.org.