Automatic Assesssment for Modified Barium Swallow Process

Dysphagia is the condition of abnormal swallowing occurring when the liquid or food bolus is incorrectly transported through the orophayngeal region. There are several causes leading to patients becoming dysphagic, these include Parkinson's disease, stroke, and other neurodegenerative diseases. A Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) with capturing fluoroscopic images during swallowing is the current gold standard technique for the assessment of dysphagia. At present, there is no software tool to accurately determine transit times of bolus activity directly from fluoroscopic images. Lack of such a software tool introduces inconsistencies in assessment between various clinicians (inter-variability) and even with the same clinician over time (intra-variability).

In this project, a software tool will be developed for spatial and temporal analysis of fluoroscopic images in order to accurately assess various swallow dysfunction variables, including hyolaryngeal excursion, pharyngeal transit time, oral transit time, valleculae stasis, pyriform recess stasis, timing of aspiration/penetration event, oral stasis, onset of pharyngeal stage swallow, and degree of soft palate movement. The software tool will employ various image-processing techniques (e.g., active contour and optical flow methods) to track and register the movements of the anatomical structures.

It is our hope that this software tool will be a step towards the standardization of the swallow dysfunction assessment.