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Swallowing Disorders Clinic


The Department of Head and Neck Surgery

Swallowing Disorders Clinic

UCLA's Swallowing Disorders Clinic provides expert personnel and state-of-the-art equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of swallowing disorders. Swallowing problems can occur at any point in the process of moving food, liquid, or saliva from the mouth through the throat (pharynx), into the esophagus and to the stomach. These problems may result in poor nutrition, dehydration or aspiration (accidental ingestion of food particles or fluids into the lungs). Dysphagia reduces quality of life. Swallowing disorders are often accompanied by voice impairment (dysphonia) as well. The central goal of the Clinic is to provide comprehensive evaluation and management of dysphagia and related disorders and improve quality of life.

Conditions Treated

  • Dysphagia
  • Swallowing problems after brain surgery
  • Swallowing problems after head and neck surgery
  • Swallowing problems after cervical spine surgery
  • Swallowing problems after thoracic surgery
  • Swallowing problems after stroke
  • Swallowing problems from neurologic disease
  • Swallowing problems from head and neck cancer
  • Swallowing problems after chemoradiation therapy
  • Chronic aspiration
  • Esophageal stenosis
  • Cricopharyngeal spasm (achalasia)
  • Zenker's diverticulum

Symptoms of Abnormal Swallowing (Dysphagia)

Indications of a swallowing disorder may include:

  • Inability to swallow or extensive time required to swallow
  • Frequent choking on food
  • Hesitancy in swallowing food
  • Coughing during or immediately after eating or drinking
  • Pain during swallowing
  • Recurring pneumonia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Regurgitation
  • Heartburn

Causes of Abnormal Swallowing (Dysphagia)

Patients may suffer from swallowing or voice difficulties for a number of reasons, including:

  • Stroke or other forms of acute neurological damage
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Radiation therapy to the neck
  • Heart surgery or other chest surgery, which may lead to vocal cord weakening or paralysis
  • Trauma to the throat or larynx
  • Tracheostomy tubes
  • Degenerative neurological disorders such as dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
  • Pharyngeal and esophageal sacs and pouches (diverticulum) and narrowing (stenosis)
  • Age-related changes

For more information, please visit the Swallowing Disorders Clinic page on the Department of Head and Neck Surgery website.

Telephone Number
(310) 206-6688 Appointment, information, and referral
(310) 794-4225 Academic office and information

Fax Number
(310) 825-2810
Provider Specialty
Berke, Gerald MD Otolaryngology / Head & Neck
Chhetri, Dinesh Khatri MD Otolaryngology / Head & Neck
Kedeshian, Paul MD General Surgery; Otolaryngology / Head & Neck
Sercarz, Joel MD Otolaryngology / Head & Neck
Wang, Marilene Beth MD Otolaryngology / Head & Neck