Stroke and geriatric patients can now get swallowing assessment bedside

Stroke and geriatric patients with dysphagia can now have an instrumental assessment at their bedside by speech pathologists thanks to new state of the art technology being trialled on two wards at St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals.

15 Apr 2021

St John of God Midland Hospital stroke and geriatric patients can now get swallowing assessment by the bedside

Known as Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES), it involves a speech pathologist passing a small tube with a camera and light on the end through the nose of a patient, to examine how they swallow food, drinks, medications and saliva. 

Inpatients usually need to undertake a videofluroscopy to assess for dysphagia at a radiological clinic, which can take time and is not suitable for all patients. 

FEES can by undertaken by speech pathologists in the patient’s room and the results are then discussed with the relevant medical team and the patient.

It can be an easier option for patients who are medically fragile or have difficulty sitting up. The testing can be repeated as needed and has the added bonus of not exposing patients to radiation.

Speech Pathologists undertaking the assessments are advanced scope practitioners who have specialist training in the procedure and will use the results to assist a patient with their treatment.

FEES is not intended to replace laryngoscopy by an ENT, but rather to assess the nature of the dysphagia and strategies that may improve or manage dysphagia and aspiration risk. 

Any structural or mucosal abnormality identified by the speech pathologist during the procedure will then be referred on for ENT and gastroenterology examination.

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