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Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (Endoscopy)

Do you have problems swallowing?

You may have already had a swallowing test with a speech-language pathologist, also called an SLP. During this test you may have tried different foods and liquids. The SLP may have checked how well you can move the muscles of your mouth and how clearly you talk.

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. What it is called depends on your SLP and the place where you have the test done.

Some names you might hear are:

  • Endoscopy
  • Endoscopic Evaluation of swallowing
  • FEES (Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing)

Why have another swallowing test?

When you have a swallowing test in the SLP's office or in your hospital room, the SLP can't see what is happening inside your mouth and throat. Other tests can help the SLP find out:

  • if food is going into your airway instead of your stomach, called aspiration
  • what parts of your mouth and throat may not be working well
  • what kinds of food are safest for you to swallow
  • if certain positions or strategies help you swallow better

During endoscopy, the SLP uses a very small tube with a camera and light on the end. This is called an endoscope. The endoscope is flexible, and connects to a computer and video monitor. Your swallowing test is usually recorded so that it can be watched again later.

Who will be there during the test?

Your SLP may do the test alone or with a doctor. The doctor is often an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT.

The equipment needed for this test can be moved to different places. This means that the test may be done in your room or you may go to an office or clinic to have it done.

What happens during the test?

You will be seated so that you are comfortable. The tube will be gently inserted through your nose into your throat. You may have something sprayed in your nose or throat to numb it so that you don't feel the tube.

You will be given some things to eat and drink. They may be colored with food coloring 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 things in your throat. The tube blows puffs of air into your throat. This part is called sensory testing.

What happens after the test?

The SLP and doctor will talk about the test. The SLP will tell you and your family about the results. You may even 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.

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