What is a Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)?
A FEES exam is usually performed during your initial consultation at MSAC. It provides a direct visual assessment of the anatomy and function of your upper aero-digestive tract at rest, with vocalization, and most importantly, with swallowing. The ENT Specialist, or Speech Pathologist, inserts a small flexible video-endoscope through your nose. Unlike a routine nasendoscopy, local anaesthetic is often avoided, to ensure that you have unaltered sensation, movements and reflexes of your upper aero-digestive tract, for the FEES procedure. Despite this, it is usually only slightly uncomfortable.
The speech pathologist will give you a range of different dye stained foods and fluids with differing textures and consistencies, in order to assess how effectively they are swallowed. A key part of the assessment is checking whether any of these foods have entered the larynx (penetration) or travelled beyond the vocal folds into the trachea towards the lungs (aspiration). It will also be visible if any of the food or fluid is becoming stuck in the upper throat (pharynx) and where the residue is located. This helps evaluate what is contributing to your swallowing problem and helps develop a treatment plan.
You may be given specific strategies or exercises to improve your swallowing. This evaluation takes 10 minutes, and you do not have to fast for this procedure. We also offer stand alone SP-led FEES assessments for patients who already have a treating ENT or other specialist and just want this type of evaluation. Your community speech pathologist, if you have one, is also welcome to attend. Separate biofeedback/ therapy sessions are also available using this endoscopic procedure.