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FEESST: A New Bedside Endoscopic Test Of The Motor And Sensory Components Of Swallowing

Ted Kim, Kathy Goodhart, Jonathan E. Aviv, Ralph L. Sacco, Beverly Diamond, Sarah Kaplan, Lanny G. Close

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We here introduce an office or bedside method of evaluating both the motor and sensory components of swallowing, called fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing with sensory testing (FEESST). FEESST combines the established endoscopic evaluation of swallowing with a technique that determines laryngopharyngeal (LP) sensory discrimination thresholds by endoscopically delivering air pulse stimuli to the mucosa innervated by the superior laryngeal nerve. Endoscopic assessment of LP sensory capacity followed by endoscopic visualization of deglutition was prospectively performed 148 times on 133 patients with dysphagia over an 8-month period. The patients had a variety of underlying diagnoses, with stroke and chronic neurologic disease predominating (n = 94). Subsequent to LP sensory testing, a complete dysphagia evaluation was conducted. Various food and liquid consistencies were dyed green, and attention was paid to their management throughout the pharyngeal stage of swallowing. Evidence of latent swallow initiation, pharyngeal pooling and/or residue, laryngeal penetration, laryngeal aspiration, and/or reflux was noted. Recommendations for therapeutic intervention were based on information obtained during the FEESST and often involved the employment of compensatory swallowing strategies, modification of the diet or its presentation, placement on non-oral feeding status, and/or referral to other related specialists. All patients successfully completed the examination. In 111 of the evaluations (75%), severe (>6.0 mm Hg air pulse pressure [APP]) unilateral or bilateral LP sensory deficits were found. With puree consistencies, 31% of evaluations with severe deficits, compared to 5% of evaluations with either normal sensitivity or moderate (4.0 to 6.0 mm Hg APP) LP sensory deficits, displayed aspiration (p <.001, χ2 test). With puree consistencies, 69% of evaluations with severe deficits, compared to 24% with normal or moderate deficits, displayed laryngeal penetration (p <.001, χ2 test). FEESST allows the clinician to obtain a comprehensive bedside assessment of swallowing that is performed as the initial swallowing evaluation for the patient with dysphagia.