According to previous studies, dysphagia – a swallowing disorder – affects 1 in 25 adults annually. It can occur in younger people, but the vast majority of people who suffer from dysphagia are over 60 years old. 

When someone suffers from dysphagia, moving food or liquid from their mouth to their stomach can be difficult and/or painful. At times, swallowing can even become impossible. 

A FEES provides the most accurate assessment possible to help you determine the correct steps for improvement.

What Is A FEES? 

Simply put, a Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) is a procedure used to assess how well a person can swallow. 

  • A FEES involves advancing a small endoscope through the nasal passage to the back of the throat. It directly visualizes the movement of foods through the pharynx and identifies if the swallow is safe and efficient. A FEES has three essential parts:
  • During the first phase, the endoscopist will complete an AP (anatomy and physiology) assessment that includes a series of non-swallowing tasks as well as an observation of patients’ secretions
  • The second phase involves introducing food. Patients’ swallowing will be assessed with different textures and sizes of food and liquid by the endoscopist.
  • Once the endoscopist examines the structure and physiology of the patient’s swallow mechanism and determines a diet that is least restrictive, they will identify maneuvers and compensations that facilitate swallowing efficiency and improve swallowing safety. They will also assist in determining treatment targets, such as swallowing exercises. A program of exercises and can reduce impairments, maintain function, and enable a speedier recovery for the patient.

How Will A FEES Benefit My Patients?

Our highly skilled endoscopists here at Carolina Speech Pathology are dedicated to helping your patients achieve the highest quality of life possible. Clinical evaluations do not provide full imagery of the swallow, which is why our profession misdiagnoses dysphagia at the bedside around 70% of the time (Leder 2002). In addition to not receiving needed care, an incorrect diagnosis may lead to unnecessary hospitalizations, wasted time, and money. Undergoing a FEES helps your patients avoid these types of issues, since this test:

  • Clearly visualizes the anatomy.
  • Captures patients’ swallowing performance.
  • Identifies any physiologic abnormalities leading to diminished swallow safety and efficiency. 
  • Addresses patients’ sensory response to airway invasion or pharyngeal residue. 
  • Recommends changes in postures, bolus delivery methods, or swallowing maneuvers to improve swallow safety and efficiency.  
  • Suggests treatment approaches, which may be helpful to improve physiologic deficits that affect swallow safety efficiency. 
  • It is conducive for patients where possible aspiration of saliva is being considered.

Our evaluations are accurate at Carolina Speech Pathology, our communication is timely, and our team is professional. Our skilled and experienced Speech-Language Pathologists are dedicated to enabling patients to enjoy a better quality of life through accurate, timely, compassionate evaluation. Please visit our resources webpage for more information.