Aerodigestive Test Descriptions

Learn more about common tests that may be recommended as part of your child's personalized treatment plan:

Computed tomography (CT), sometimes called a CAT scan, uses x-rays and computers to create an image of the inside of your child's body. This test will provide detailed images specifically in the chest and lungs.

The CT machine looks like a large doughnut. Your child will move through the opening of the doughnut while on the exam table.

The CT scanner takes cross-sectional images of the lungs most often referred to as slices. The CT scanner takes pictures of different sections or slices of tissue as your child moves through the machine.

Learn more about how to prepare for your CT scan.

A sleep study or polysomnogram measures the quality of a person's sleep. This laboratory test is extremely valuable for diagnosing and treating many sleep disorders, including neurological disorders, movement disorders, and breathing disorders at night. Specifically, we are assessing whether your child may have signs of airway obstruction, or sleep apnea (pause in breathing)

The test requires an overnight stay in the sleep lab (at hospital or satellite location). Small electrodes (round pads) are placed on the scalp, chest and legs. An oxygen sensor is placed on your child's toe or finger that measures blood oxygen levels. One parent must stay with your child at the bedside overnight.

Find more details about our sleep studies in our informational handouts:
English Version
Spanish Version

These procedures are performed in the operating room under a general anesthetic.  The procedure (microlaryngoscopy) uses a small, lighted tube with a camera on the end that is passed into the back of the throat. It allows a magnified view of the upper throat and vocal cords. A bronchoscopy uses a metal tube (rigid bronchoscope), or a bendable tube (flexible bronchoscope) with a camera on the end to get a magnified view of the windpipe (trachea) and lower part of the airway (bronchi). During this procedure, the surgeon may also be able to perform interventions to help your child, if needed.

Esophagram , or barium swallow, is an imaging testthat uses X-rays to look at your child’s upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The upper GI tract includes the back of the mouth and throat (pharynx), and your esophagus (swallowing tube).

This test usesbarium, a white liquid substance taken either by mouth or given through a feeding tube that helps the radiologist see the images of the GI tract during swallowing. The esophagram shows the esophagus and top of the stomach. The radiologist will be able to study how your child swallows.

Please view our general instructions about how to prepare for your child's medical imaging procedure

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (also called upper endoscopy) is a procedure that allows the GI physician to look at the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. A thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope allows the physician to view the inside of this area of the body, as well as insert instruments for the sampling of small pieces of tissue for biopsy. These samples are evaluated by the pathologist under a microscope using special stains for a better understanding of the suspected problem.

An esophageal pH monitor measures the acidity inside of the esophagus. It is helpful in evaluating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A thin plastic tube with a sensor is placed into a nostril, guided down the throat and then into the esophagus. The tube stops where the esophagus meets the stomach , and the sensor measures pH, or acidity, for a 24 hour period. The other end is attached to a small recorder that measures the acid that comes into the esophagus.

The probe may be placed at the time of a scheduled procedure in the operating room or as an outpatient in the GI department. Some patients may be able to go home with the monitor and return the next day to have it removed, while other children need to stay overnight in the hospital.

Standard laboratory tests and cultures may be done prior to surgery to determine if your child may have an infection that could interfere with healing of the airway after a procedure. These tests may include blood draws, culture swab of nostrils and/or tracheostomy tube to screen for viral or bacterial infections, or other tests.  These tests may be performed at Lurie, or sometimes arrangements can be made to have them done through your pediatrician (closer to your home).

Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) measure how well your child can move air in and out of his or her lungs. PFTs will help our team and your healthcare provider tell if your child has lung disease, how severe it is, and what medications may help. Your child may be asked to do PFT’s in your healthcare provider’s office or in a pulmonary function laboratory.

Learn more about Pulmonary Function Testing at Lurie Children's.

For children with vocal problems, such as hoarse, scratchy, or breathy voice, a voice that is too soft, an inappropriate pitch for the child's size or age, loss of voice for any reason, or sudden change in your child’s voice, an evaluation with our trained speech-language pathologists and/or Otolaryngologist may be recommended.

Learn more about the Voice Program at Lurie Children's.

Learn more about Voice Therapy at Lurie Children's.