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Structural dysphagia

Dysphagia is another term for swallowing difficulties. There are many different types of dysphagia, including structural dysphagia. Structural dysphagia occurs when there is a problem with the structure of the throat. This can cause difficulty in swallowing.

The Kids Feeding Team will work closely with a dysphagia trained speech and language therapist in order to diagnose and treat structural dysphagia.

What is structural dysphagia?

Structural dysphagia occurs when there is any swallowing difficulties caused by a problem in the structure of the muscles and nerves used to swallow. Structural abnormalities can occur in the oral cavity (mouth), the pharynx (throat) and the oesophagus (food pipe).

The Kids Feeding Team will work hard to ensure that these difficulties are minimised or reduced in order to help achieve a safe and effective swallow. We are able to assess, treat and monitor structural dysphagia and advise on how best to support your child's needs.

What causes structural dysphagia?

Structural dysphagia can occur at any age. Children can be born with structural abnormalities that cause swallowing problems or they may acquire this in later childhood development. One main cause of structural swallowing difficulties in childhood is cleft lip and palate. Neurological diseases, such as, cerebral palsy are also a common cause of structural dysphagia in childhood.

The Kids Feeding Team will work hard to assess the causes of structural dysphagia in each child in order to gain more understanding of the nature of your child’s problems. By identifying the underlying cause of the structural dysphagia we will be able to decide how best to help.

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What problems caused by structural dysphagia can we help with?

Children that experience structural dysphagia may have the following problems that our team of dieticians, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists can help minimise and support:

How can the Kids Feeding Team help a child with structural dysphagia?

The Kids Feeding Team will be able to provide many benefits to a child that experiences structural dysphagia. If left untreated structural dysphagia can potentially cause malnutrition, dehydration and pneumonia from aspiration. These side effects can cause many other complications, potentially life-threatening which our team can prevent. Through careful assessment and bespoke treatment options, we would aim to:

We make every effort to help and support for continued oral feeding as we know this is the preferred method. However, on occasions there may be indication for tube feeding if it is unsafe for a child to be fed orally. On most occasions, after being tube fed a child will be able to return to oral feeding once it is safe to do so.

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What would treatment for structural dysphagia involve?

Our multidisciplinary Kids Feeding Team will use various treatment options to support a child with structural dysphagia, this might include one or a number of:

How do I arrange an assessment for structural dysphagia?

If you would like to know more about the services we offer for structural dysphagia or to arrange an assessment with a member of our multidisciplinary Kids Feeding Team, do not hesitate to email or call 0161 820 8262.


Structural dysphagia occurs when any abnormality to the muscles and nerves used to swallow cause swallowing problems. Structural dysphagia can occur at any time but the most common cause in children is cleft lip and palate. The Kids Feeding Team are able to identify the root structural cause of the swallowing problems and can help ensure a safe and effective swallow through different therapeutic strategies.

If you or your child experience any difficulties with swallowing and feel that you would benefit from seeing our Kids Feeding Team, email or call 0161 820 8262.

Make a referral

To refer a child to our services this can be done online, or by calling 0161 820 8262 or emailing office@kids

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