Accuracy of the volume-viscosity swallow test for clinical screening of oropharyngeal dysphagia and aspiration

Clin Nutr. 2008 Dec;27(6):806-15. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2008.06.011. Epub 2008 Sep 11.


Aims: To determine the accuracy of the bedside volume-viscosity swallow test (V-VST) for clinical screening of impaired safety and efficacy of deglutition.

Methods: We studied 85 patients with dysphagia and 12 healthy subjects. Series of 5-20 mL nectar (295.02 mPa.s), liquid (21.61 mPa.s) and pudding (3682.21 mPa.s) bolus were administered during the V-VST and videofluoroscopy. Cough, fall in oxygen saturation > or =3%, and voice changes were considered signs of impaired safety, and piecemeal deglutition and oropharyngeal residue, signs of impaired efficacy.

Results: Videofluoroscopy showed patients had prolonged swallow response (> or =1064 ms); 52.1% had safe swallow at nectar, 32.9%, at liquid (p<0.05), and 80.6% at pudding viscosity (p<0.05); 29.4% had aspirations, and 45.8% oropharyngeal residue. The V-VST showed 83.7% sensitivity and 64.7% specificity for bolus penetration into the larynx and 100% sensitivity and 28.8% specificity for aspiration. Sensitivity of V-VST was 69.2% for residue, 88.4% for piecemeal deglutition, and 84.6% for identifying patients whose deglutition improved by enhancing bolus viscosity. Specificity was 80.6%, 87.5%, and 73.7%, respectively.

Conclusions: The V-VST is a sensitive clinical method to identify patients with dysphagia at risk for respiratory and nutritional complications, and patients whose deglutition could be improved by enhancing bolus viscosity. Patients with a positive test should undergo videofluoroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / physiopathology