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Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)

FEES stands for Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing. The speech language pathologists at Hendricks Regional health can use this specialized test to better understand why you may be having difficulty swallowing. Your doctor, in partnership with your speech therapist, will use the information learned from this test to create the best possible treatment plan for your needs.

Who Should Have This Test?

Any patient who has difficulty swallowing may be a candidate for a consultation with a Speech Language Pathologist. Depending on your symptoms, FEES may be a helpful tool to assist your doctor in diagnosing the cause of your symptoms.

Patients who may benefit from FEES include those with:
  • Repeated choking and coughing due to trouble swallowing liquid, food, medicines or saliva
  • Problems managing/swallowing saliva or secretions
  • A feeling of “sticking” in the throat
  • Challenges with reflux or GERD
  • Weight loss caused by swallowing problems
Also, patients who have a past or present medical history of these conditions may be candidates as well:

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Head or neck cancer (especially those who received radiation treatment)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Neurological disorders
What to Expect at Your Appointment
At your appointment, your speech therapist will talk you through every step of the procedure beforehand.

The test begins with the insertion of a thin, flexible tube called a laryngoscope, which has a small camera on the end and connects to a computer and video screen. This small scope is gently placed into your nose and guided towards the middle of the throat. It just takes a few seconds to insert the scope. Your speech therapist will use special numbing spray in your nose to make this step more comfortable.

Once the scope has been inserted, your speech therapist will ask you to say “eeeee” as he or she examines movement of your vocal cords. Next, to evaluate your swallowing, your therapist will ask you to eat and drink (items might include applesauce, pudding, graham crackers and milk). If you are having trouble swallowing certain foods or medicines, your doctor may want you to bring them with you to include with the swallowing evaluation. Your appointment will likely take no more than an hour, with the scope inserted for about seven minutes or less. Your swallowing test will be recorded on video so that your speech therapist or your doctor can watch it again later.

After the Test
Your speech therapist will talk with you about your results, showing you various images from the recording to help illustrate this feedback. Together, you will discuss what the results mean, such as what foods and drinks are best and proactive steps you can take to improve your symptoms. Your doctor will also be involved and will have input into your treatment plan, which may include swallowing therapy and other approaches.