Oropharyngeal Videofluoroscopy (OPV)

Swallow/OPV Evaluations

Oropharyngeal videofluoroscopy (OPV) is a video fluoroscopic swallowing exam that uses a form of real-time x-ray called fluoroscopy to evaluate a patient’s ability to swallow safely and effectively. This can be helpful to diagnose upper throat swallowing and muscular problems. The exam is typically well tolerated, noninvasive, and can help identify the consistencies of liquid and food that a patient can most safely consume.

Common Uses Of Procedure

The OPV may be performed because of a known or suspected swallowing problem or because of the presence of conditions that are strongly associated with swallowing difficulty, such as:

    • coughing and/or choking while eating or drinking
    • coughing, choking or drooling with swallowing
    • wet-sounding voice
    • changes in breathing when eating or drinking
    • frequent respiratory infections
    • known or suspected aspiration pneumonia
    • masses on the tongue, pharynx or larynx
      • muscle weakness, or myopathy, involving the pharynx
    • neurologic disorders likely to affect swallowing

How Should I Prepare?

You should inform your physician of any medications being taken and if there are any allergies, especially to iodinated contrast materials. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions. OPV swallowing studies are also commonly performed on infants and children. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions to prepare your child for the examination.

Other than medications, you may be instructed to:

  • not eat or drink anything for several hours before your procedure
  • refrain from smoking or chewing gum prior to the exam
  • remove some of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam
  • remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images

Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. See our Pregnancy Safety page for more information about pregnancy and x-rays.

How Is Procedure Performed?

A radiologist or radiologic technologist and a speech-language pathologist will guide you through the swallow exam.

    1. You will be positioned upright on a chair or stool or standing on a platform. If necessary, you may remain in a wheelchair.
    1. Infants and children are positioned in secure seats.
    1. You will be directed to eat and drink controlled amounts of foods and liquids in a variety of consistencies to which barium, a contrast material, has been added.
    1. The speech pathologist may try to help you swallow better by using different cups or utensils or changing your body position.
    1. As you eat and drink, the x-ray camera will be moved near your throat.
    1. The speech-language pathologist and radiologist will watch you swallow in real-time through a fluoroscope, a device that projects x-ray images in a movie-like sequence onto a monitor. The images are usually captured digitally, so they can be reviewed later.
  1. The imaging portion of this procedure is usually completed within 15 minutes.

Who Interprets Test Results & How Will I Receive The Results?

One of our Radiologic Physicians interprets the x-ray images and forwards a report to your referring Physician. You referring Physician will contact you regarding the results of the procedure, as well as the next course of action if any.

What About Payment?

Radiology Consultants will file all insurance as a courtesy to you. Depending on the Contractual Agreement with your Insurance Company, you may owe a co-payment and/or deductible at the time of service.

* Please bring your Insurance Card with you *

Please visit our BILLING PAGE for specific information on Insurance, Self-Pay, Motor Vehicle Accident, Cash, Debit or Major Credit Card payment options.

Pregnant Patients

Please notify the Radiological Physician and/or Technologist if there is a possibility you are pregnant. Radiation is potentially harmful to a developing baby during pregnancy.

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** All images are for educational purposes only. Consult your physician for a proper diagnosis.**

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