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Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Megaesophagus: Individualized videofluoroscopic feeding evaluation

What is a feeding evaluation for dogs with megaesophagus?

An individualized videofluoroscopic feeding evaluation will help to create tailored feeding, hydration, and medication plans for dogs with megaesophagus.

Megaesophagus is a condition in which the esophagus becomes dilated and is unable to contract to move food or water to the stomach. The evaluation will help to evaluate feeding strategies to determine the optimal food consistency, upright time needed, and liquid tolerance. It can also assess for esophageal function, swallowing abnormalities, or gastric reflux.

What happens during a megaesophagus feeding evaluation?

The evaluation takes place over two days. The first day the initial consultation is performed, diagnostics are discussed and completed as needed, and we work with you to create an imaging plan individualized to your dog. On the second day, the feeding evaluation is performed. Your dog will be placed in an appropriately sized Bailey chair and offered different food consistencies and a water equivalent spaced out over two sessions, typically two hours apart. Videofluoroscopy is used to watch the movement of food or water to the stomach. You will then receive an individualized consult to discuss the findings and recommendations and a report that is shared with your family veterinarian.

Is my dog a candidate for an individualized videofluoroscopic feeding evaluation?

Your dog can undergo the evaluation if it can comfortably sit in a Bailey chair for prolonged periods of time; will eat in a novel setting while in close contact with students and clinicians; is not aggressive with food or strangers; and does not currently have pneumonia. 

What are the risks of a megaesophagus feeding evaluation?

While we do our best to minimize the risk, all dogs with megaesophagus can regurgitate or develop aspiration pneumonia at any time. If a dog becomes too stressed or cannot be reasonably restrained, the session will be stopped.

What do I need to bring to my megaesophagus feeding evaluation appointment?

Up-to-date X-rays of your dog’s chest will be needed to rule out pneumonia. This can be done during your appointment or immediately prior to your visit, with the images sent to us. 

Bring a container of your dog’s usual food that we can potentially use during the evaluation.

We have our own Bailey chairs but if your dog is especially large or small, let us know in advance so we can make special arrangements if needed.

Dogs should not be fed the morning of the procedure but let us know if this is a concern for you.

Imaging periods are spaced several hours apart, so be prepared to spend most of the day with us.

How do I schedule a megaesophagus feeding evaluation?

For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please call 509-335-0711.