Do you have problems swallowing?
You may have already had a swallowing test with an SLP. You may have been tested in the SLP’s office, in your home, or in the hospital. The SLP may have checked how well you move your mouth muscles and how clearly you talk. You may have tried different foods and liquids.
Sometimes, the SLP needs even more information about how you swallow. You may need another swallowing test—this time using a tube that goes down your throat.
You may hear different names for this test, such as:
- endoscopic evaluation of swallowing
- fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing, or FEES
This test helps the SLP see what happens in your mouth and throat when you swallow. Endoscopy lets the SLP see:
- if food goes into your airway instead of your stomach, called aspiration
- what parts of your mouth and throat may not work well
- what kinds of food are safest for you to swallow
- if certain positions or strategies help you swallow better
Having an Endoscopic Evaluation
Your SLP may do the test alone or with a doctor. The doctor is often an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT.
The doctor or SLP uses a small tube with a camera and light on the end. This is an endoscope. The endoscope is flexible, and connects to a computer and video monitor. Your swallowing test is often recorded so that the SLP can watch it again later.
The equipment can move to different places. This means that you can have the test in your room or in an office or clinic.
You will sit for this test. The tube will be put into your nose and down your throat. You may have something sprayed in your nose or throat to numb it. This way, you will not feel the tube.
You will eat and drink different things during the test. They may have food coloring in them so that they are easier to see. The SLP and doctor can see a picture of your throat on the computer screen.
The SLP may also test how well you can feel inside your throat. The tube will blow puffs of air into your throat. This is sensory testing.
The SLP and doctor will talk about the test. You may watch a video so you can see the test yourself. The SLP will use the results to plan your treatment. You and your SLP will talk about what kinds of food and drink are the safest for you. You may start swallowing therapy soon after your test ( ASHA, 2022)