Endoscopic Evaluations of Swallowing
Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing
In order to determine what is causing your swallowing problems, your doctor may order a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing, known as FEES. This test allows your doctor to identify what part of the swallowing process is causing your swallowing disorder.
In addition to determining what part of your throat is not working correctly, it can also help determine if there are certain foods or liquids you should avoid or even certain positions that could help you swallow more safely.
The Swallowing Process
There are four stages that make up the swallowing process:
Stage 1: Oral preparation stage. Food is chewed to prepare for swallowing.
Stage 2: Oral stage. The tongue pushes food or liquid to the back of the mouth.
Stage 3: Pharyngeal stage. Food or liquid passes through the pharynx and larynx into the esophagus.
Stage 4: Esophageal stage. Food or liquid passes through the esophagus and enters the stomach.
The FEES Process
A fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing is typically performed by a laryngologist (voice and swallowing specialist) alongside a speech and swallowing therapist. It involves the use of a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope. The instrument has a light and tiny camera to capture as much information about how you swallow as possible.
The endoscope is then passed through your nose and into your throat. The endoscope will be moved further moved down to get a better look at your vocal folds and the upper part of the swallowing passage.
There are two steps to the FEES test, and the procedure typically only takes about 20 minutes:
- The first phase allows your doctor to see how you swallow saliva before the introduction of food. This involves looking at the structure of your pharynx and larynx.
- The second phase involves food. Food and liquid of different textures and sizes will be ingested and monitored. Your doctor will use food color to dye the food and liquid so it is easier to see onscreen.
What Happens After FEES?
If the FEES determines what is causing your swallowing issues, your doctor and swallowing therapist will come up with a treatment plan. This typically involves a combination of strategies to modify the types of food you eat or make changes in your positioning while eating. In certain situations, procedures or surgeries to correct a structural problem may be recommended.
If you are having concerns with your swallowing, call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an appointment with our expert swallowing specialist.