What is the role of scintigraphy in the workup of dysphagia?

Updated: Mar 20, 2020
  • Author: Nam-Jong Paik, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Elizabeth A Moberg-Wolff, MD  more...
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Scintigraphy has limited value in evaluating pharyngeal swallowing disorders. This test is useful in quantitative and qualitative evaluation of subglottic aspiration, esophageal motility disorders, and gastroesophageal reflux. [45]

Oropharyngeal transit time can be measured through time-activity curves constructed from a specific region of interest (ROI) of the mouth, pharynx, and esophagus. Peaks and nadirs of the first derivative curve correspond to peak emptying or filling rates of the respective regions.

Scintigraphic examination of dysphagia entails having the patient swallow a technetium-99m (99m Tc) sulfur colloid bolus in order to label oral secretions. Neck and chest imaging is subsequently performed to detect aspirations.

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