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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

What is a FEES?

FEES diagram

A fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) is a procedure used to assess how well you swallow. During the procedure, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) passes a thin, flexible instrument through your nose, which has a tiny camera with a light on the end. Then the SLP views parts of your throat as you swallow various foods and drinks.

Why I might need a FEES:

A FEES is recommended when swallowing difficulties are suspected. If you have difficulty swallowing, you may be at risk for food and/or liquids entering your lungs. This may lead to an infection in your lungs known as aspiration pneumonia. You may also be at risk of not eating and drinking enough to maintain dietary requirements. This could lead to dehydration or malnutrition. The FEES is one of two tests that can be used to gather further information about how you swallow. It allows the clinician to examine the throat structures & voice box closely and make recommendations about the safest and most effective way to swallow.

What to expect with a FEES procedure:

The FEES is completed in the office and you can bring any specific foods or drinks that cause you difficulties at home. During the procedure you will be seated upright in a regular chair. An SLP passes a thin, flexible scope through your nose. You may feel brief pressure, but not pain when the scope is being passed through your nose.

The FEES test has two basic parts. During the first phase, the structures of the mouth, throat and voice box are observed at rest and with various speech tasks. The SLP will watch how well you swallow saliva before any food. The second part of the FEES test is when food and drinks are introduced. Then the SLP views parts of your throat as you swallow. The SLP may use food color to dye the food and liquid so it's easier to view on screen. You may also be asked to trial various strategies, change positions or try different types of foods that may assist your swallowing.

After the test, you will be able to know the results of the test immediately. You will be able to view the video with the SLP if you are interested to see it. If your FEES test shows that you are having problems swallowing, you will work with the SLP to develop a treatment plan. A full report will then be sent to the doctor or therapist that referred you for the test.

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