Are we testing a true thin liquid?


Fink TA, Ross JB.

Dysphagia. 2009 Sep;24(3):285-9. Epub 2009 Feb 21.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects on a patient’s swallowing of diluting E-Z-EM’s Varibar® Thin liquid barium product (which is often used in videofluoroscopic swallow studies) to achieve a consistency closer to water. Forty patients who were 18 years and older participated in this study. Their varied medical diagnoses included stroke, pneumonia, TBI, and cancer as well as diagnoses not usually associated with dysphagia such as abdominal pain and rhabdomyolysis. To screen for aspiration, E-Z-EM’s Varibar Thin liquid was presented to patients to swallow as 2 cc, 5 cc, cup, and straw drinking trials. If no aspiration occurred, the patient was given the Varibar Thin liquid diluted by 50% using water (referred to as Ultrathin) to swallow in the same amounts. Then occurrence of aspiration with the Ultrathin liquid was compared to the occurrence of aspiration when the patient swallowed the Varibar Thin liquid. Fifty percent of patients aspirated on the Ultrathin liquid but not on the Varibar Thin liquid, across at least one of the test conditions. From these results we suggest that although E-Z-EM Varibar Thin liquid may have a low-viscosity range, it still may not be “thin enough” to identify all patients who aspirate or who are at risk for aspiration on thin liquids.

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