Both exams are valid and specific assessments to assess dysphagia in a patient with research showing FEES (Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing) to be more sensitive and specific than VFSS (Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study). However, there are certain parameters where a FEES may provide more valuable information than a VFSS.
Accommodate positioning restrictions including halos/braces, head of bed restrictions/spinal cord injuries, and contractures, which may otherwise limit the view capabilities in the radiology suite.
No radiation exposure or barium in test materials.
No limitations on length of exam; easily assess patient endurance during a meal.
Assess patient specific food preferences, pills, and carbonated beverages.
Directly view the larynx and pharynx including vocal fold appearance and movement, tissue integrity including signs of reflux, and secretion management.
Portability to perform exam in the patient’s environment – intensive/specialty care type units/vents, medical floor, inpatient rehab, skilled nursing. No fatiguing transportation for medically fragile/cognitively impaired patients. Outpatient services are also available.
Record entire exam (unlike VFSS where the fluoro is turned on and off during the exam). The endoscope is always “on” to view management of pharyngeal residues and secretions.
Significantly less expensive than the VFSS.