The 3-ounce (90-cc) water swallow challenge: A screening test for children with suspected oropharyngeal dysphagia

Debra M. Suiter, Steven B. Leder, David E. Karas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objectives: To investigate the clinical utility of the 3-ounce (90-cc) water swallow challenge alone to determine both aspiration status and oral feeding recommendations in children. Design: Cross-sectional evaluation of a diagnostic test with a consecutive, referral-based sample. Setting: Urban, tertiary care, teaching hospital. Participants: Fifty-six children (age range 2-18 years; mean 13 years) referred for swallowing evaluations. Outcome Measures: Aspiration status during fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) was the objective criterion standard with which results from the 3-ounce water swallow challenge were compared. Results: Twenty-two (39.3%) participants passed and 34 (60.7%) failed the 3-ounce challenge. Sensitivity for predicting aspiration status during FEES = 100.0 percent, specificity = 51.2 percent, and false-positive rate = 48.4 percent. Sensitivity for identifying individuals who were deemed safe for oral intake based on FEES results = 100.0 percent, specificity = 44.0 percent, and false-positive rate = 56.0 percent. Conclusions: If the 3-ounce water swallow challenge is passed, not only thin liquids but diet recommendations with puree and solid food consistencies can be made without the need for further instrumental dysphagia assessment. Significance: The 3-ounce water swallow challenge has been shown to be a clinically useful screening test for oropharyngeal dysphagia in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-190
Number of pages4
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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