General Information about FEES
Example of FEES in action
Clinical bedside swallowing exams (CSEs) are frequently utilized by SLPs when a patient is suspected to have swallowing issues. However, CSEs are NOT designed to diagnose dysphagia. Rather, they are used as a screening tool. Research indicates even the most experienced SLPs will make an error in their recommendations at beside about 70% of the time.
So, how can we treat what we can't see? This is where FEES can prove to be a necessity when it comes to determining the pathophysiology of the swallow mechanism and deciding which evidence-based treatments and strategies are best for each individual patient.
A mobile FEES procedure provides a cost effective, evidence-based, timely, gold standard assessment. It allows us to see the "full picture" behind a patient's swallow during meals in their natural environment.
FEES has been shown to be higher in specificity and severity in identifying penetration, aspiration, residue, and spillage.
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How does FEES work?
A flexible endoscope is gently guided along the floor of the nose. It is positioned in the throat so we can visualize the structures of the throat. We are then able to watch as a patient eats and drinks. We dye the food and drinks with food coloring so we can better see what happens as the patient swallows.
A FEES evaluation is performed by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). This test is able to help the SLP understand why the patient is having difficulty swallowing, often referred to as "dysphagia". Without being able to visualize what is happening, we cannot correctly diagnose the swallowing issue.
After a FEES, the SLP can then create an appropriate treatment plan. If a patient has dysphagia, aspiration is always a concern.
Dysphagia can lead to serious complications if left untreated, including:
~Upper Respiratory Infections
Dysphagia can affect the patient's quality of life and prevent them from enjoying meals and social occasions.