Screening for dysphagia

Dysphagia among stroke patients is suggested by the following test:

  1. First check the patient for “swallowing complaints, abnormalities of voice quality, facial asymmetry, or either expressive or receptive aphasia.” If none is detected then go to step 2.
  2. Have the patient drink 10 mL of water from a cup without a straw while seated upright while oxygenation saturation is monitored during and for 2 minutes after the test. Check whether the patient
    • “Coughed or choked during the water drinking or had a change in voice quality after the swallow”.
    • Oxygenation drops by 2% or more.

In this small study of 84 patients, this two-step test detected 96% of patients with dysphagia as compared to testing by a speech pathologist.

This had been added to


Turner-Lawrence DE, Peebles M, Price MF, Singh SJ, & Asimos AW (2009). A feasibility study of the sensitivity of emergency physician Dysphagia screening in acute stroke patients. Annals of emergency medicine, 54 (3) PMID: 19362752

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