Dysphagia Specialist

Robert Baxter Meek, III, MD -  - Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor

Anne Arundel ENT

Robert Baxter Meek, III, MD

Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor & Otolaryngologist located in Annapolis, MD

Dysphagia, also known as difficulty swallowing, can lead to serious health issues, including: malnutrition, weight loss dehydration and respiratory problems. At Anne Arundel ENT, located in Annapolis, Maryland, board certified otolaryngologist Dr. Robert Baxter Meek, III, has two decades of experience in diagnosing and treating dysphagia.

Dysphagia Q & A

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is when a patient has difficulty swallowing either solids or liquids. The term comes from the Greek word “dys,” meaning bad or difficult, and “phagein,” which means to eat.

What causes dysphagia?

Swallowing is a surprisingly complicated process that entails three stages. These are the:

  • Oral phase, comprised of sucking, chewing, and the movement of food or liquid from the mouth into the throat.
  • Pharyngeal phase. This is the second phase in which the swallowing reflex squeezes food down the throat, closing off the airway to prevent aspiration and choking.
  • Esophageal phase. This is the final phase and consists of opening and tightening at the top and bottom of the esophagus and squeezing food through the esophagus tube and into the stomach.

Problems that result in dysphagia can occur during any of these three stages. Problems can be caused by a number of diseases and conditions. These include: physical obstructions in the esophagus or pharynx, such as a tumor; neurological disorders, caused by issues such as a stroke or Parkinson’s Disease; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and achalasia, a condition in which the muscles of the lower portion of the esophagus don’t relax.

How does Dr. Meek diagnose the cause of dysphagia?

Dr. Meek begins by taking a complete medical history, followed by either a

  • Flexible Laryngoscopy:  Analyze the structure and movement of the laryngeal and pharyngeal structures.  
  • Flexible Laryngoscopy with Videostroboscopy, in conjunction with speech therapy to record and analyze the motion of the larynx in greater detail.  
  • Modified barium swallow study. Performed at the hospital with a speech therapist and a radiologist. This entails the patient swallowing barium representing different food consistencies, which is captured via motion imaging, to determine the cause and nature of the swallowing problem.
  • Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing. Performed in conjunction with speech therapy, this procedure uses a small endoscope affixed with a digital camera that is placed through one nostril to capture images of the throat as food and liquids are swallowed.

How is dysphagia treated?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the swallowing disorder. Options may include:

  • Esophageal dilation and Botox injection. A procedure in which an endoscope with a special balloon attached is used to stretch the esophagus, in addition to injecting the Botox medication, to give a longer lasting relaxation to the muscle and improve swallowing.
  • Surgery. An esophageal tumor may require surgical removal.  
  • Medications. Dysphagia associated with GERD may be treated with oral medication.

Major Insurance Providers Accepted

At Anne Arundel ENT, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.

Blue Choice Health Plan
Blue Cross Blue Shield
United Healthcare