The Safety of Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing with Sensory Testing (FEESST): An Analysis of 500 Consecutive Evaluations
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We assessed the safety of a new office or bedside method of evaluating both the motor and sensory components of swallowing called flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing with sensory testing (FEESST). FEESST combines the established endoscopic evaluation of swallowing with a technique that determines laryngopharyngeal sensory discrimination thresholds by endoscopically delivering air-pulse stimuli to the mucosa innervated by the superior laryngeal nerve. Endoscopic assessment of laryngopharyngeal sensory capacity followed by endoscopic visualization of deglutition was prospectively performed 500 times in 253 patients with dysphagia over a 2.5-year period in a tertiary care center. The patients had a variety of underlying diagnoses, with stroke and chronic neurological disease predominating (n= 155). To determine the safety of FEESST, the presence of epistaxis, airway compromise, and significant changes in heart rate before and after the evaluation were assessed. Patients were also asked to rate the level of discomfort of the examination; 498 evaluations were completed. There were three instances of epistaxis that were self-limited. There were no cases of airway compromise. There were no significant differences in heart rate between pre- and posttest measurements (p > 0.05). Eighty-one percent of patients noted either no discomfort or mild discomfort as a result of the examination. In conclusion, FEESST is a safe method of evaluating dysphagia in the tertiary care setting and may also have application for the chronic care setting.
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