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A fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing is a clinic visit to evaluate your child’s feeding and swallowing function. This is accomplished through caregiver interviews, observation of your child while eating, and direct visualization of their swallowing structures using a child-sized endoscope. The endoscope is a thin, flexible tube that is attached to a bright light and a camera. A team member passes a thin tube through the passages in your child’s nose. It allows the care team to view the structures of your child’s upper aerodigestive tract (inside of the nose and throat) and how they function during swallowing and at rest.
Our evaluation helps identify risk factors for aspiration and adaptations that can help make eating and drinking safe for your child. Examples of adaptations include changing your child’s position, type of bottle or cup, or consistency of food and drink. The goal of the evaluation is to decrease health risks that may occur from aspiration (such as lung problems).
Children who are referred to the FEES Clinic typically have a diagnosis of or suspicion for dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. These children may have difficulties with aspiration or passing of liquid and/or food into the lungs.
The FEES Clinic is a collaborative effort between the Pediatric Otolaryngology Department and the Swallowing Disorders Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In the FEES Clinic, a multidisciplinary team that includes otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), speech pathology, occupational therapy and nursing personnel evaluate a child’s feeding and swallowing skills.
The FEES may be an alternative or additional evaluation to more traditional methods of swallowing evaluation, such as the upright modified barium swallow. A modified barium swallow study uses X-rays to make a video of your child eating and drinking various foods and liquids. This allows providers to examine the anatomy of your child's mouth and throat as well as their swallowing technique.
FEES does not involve radiation. It can be done in any exam room in virtually any patient position and is well tolerated by most patients. Children of any age may be referred to the FEES Clinic. Team members will review your child’s records to determine if this is the most appropriate evaluation for your child. The FEES Clinic scheduler will assist your family in scheduling and preparing for the visit.
A visit to the outpatient FEES Clinic is approximately one hour long. A typical visit includes the following:
The FEES Clinic combines pediatric expertise in otolaryngology, speech pathology and occupational therapy to provide the most child and family-centered evaluation of swallowing available. Our experience with children and our pediatric-sized equipment uniquely qualify us to provide this service.