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Characterizing the Flow of Thickened Barium and Non-barium Liquid Recipes Using the IDDSI Flow Test

  • Barbon, Carly E. A.1, 2
  • Steele, Catriona M.1, 2, 3
  • 1 Toronto Rehabilitation Institute—University Health Network, Swallowing Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, 550 University Avenue, 12th floor, Toronto, ON, M5G 2A2, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 2 University of Toronto, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 3 International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative, Board of Directors, Brisbane, Australia , Brisbane (Australia)
Published Article
Springer US
Publication Date
Jun 11, 2018
DOI: 10.1007/s00455-018-9915-6
Springer Nature


The use of thickened liquids for dysphagia management has become wide-spread. Videofluoroscopy is commonly used to determine dysphagia severity and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, including texture modification, but this requires the use of radio-opaque contrast media. In order for the results of a videofluoroscopy to have validity with respect to confirming swallowing safety and efficiency on different liquid consistencies, it is important to understand the flow characteristics of the contrast media used and how the flow of these stimuli compares to the flow of liquids that are provided outside the assessment context. In this study, we explored the flow characteristics of 20% w/v barium and non-barium stimuli prepared using starch and gum thickeners to reach the slightly, mildly and moderately thick liquid categories defined by the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI). Our goal was to identify recipes that would produce stimuli with stable flow properties over a 3 h time frame post mixing. Thickener concentration was titrated to achieve matching flow (i.e., IDDSI Flow Test results within a 1 ml range) across the four stimulus types (non-barium starch, non-barium gum, barium starch, barium gum) within each IDDSI level. The combination of barium and thickeners resulted in further thickening, particularly with starch-based thickening agents. A probe of the influence of refrigeration showed no difference in flow measures between chilled and room temperature stimuli over a 3-h time frame. Overall, recipes with stable flow over three hours were identified for all barium and non-barium liquids tested.

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