Radiographic Magnification on Videofluoroscopy: An Important Variable to Consider for Scaled Analyses of Swallowing


    Traditionally, kinematic measures on videofluoroscopy require the use of an external scalar (such as a penny) to transform pixels to absolute distances. Videofluoroscopy is subject to image magnification based on the distance of the feature of interest to the X-ray source. However, the impact of the position/location of the external scalar on swallowing measures is unknown. Our goal was to systematically investigate the accuracy of various common external scalar locations in lateral and anterior–posterior (A-P) view.


    U.S. pennies were taped to a styrofoam head in three positions (on the left and right lateral neck and in midline submentally). Locations were measured to ensure equal left and right, as well as midline, placement. A metal screwdriver (6 mm in diameter) was inserted into the premanufactured hole that is centrally located at the bottom of the styrofoam head. The head was centered on a medical tray and placed in the middle of a Siemens Alpha C-arm Fluoroscope field. ImageJ was used to measure penny length in pixels (three locations) in both lateral and A-P views. Penny length was known (19.05 mm), and, therefore, used to derive screwdriver size (for each location) for comparison to the actual screwdriver size.


    All scalars overestimated the screwdriver size ranging from 6.55 to 7.87 mm, representing a 9%–31% inflation. Scalars closer to the X-ray source had the largest magnification.


    Our results confirm that image magnification of external scalars is a significant source of variability that is currently unaccounted for in the swallowing literature. Recommendations for future research design/measurement methods are provided.


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