The Speech & Language Therapy team was very excited to treat its first patient on 14 May with its Fibre-Optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) that was purchased with a grant provided by Kingston Hospital Charity.

FEES is an instrumental assessment that provides an accurate and in-depth assessment for patients with swallowing difficulties. It also helps therapists to detect whether food and/ or drink is going down the wrong way.

A flexible scope with a tiny camera is inserted through one nostril to visualise structures in the throat. It also looks at how patients are managing to swallow their own saliva. Unlike video fluoroscopy (a moving X-ray of swallowing), it is portable and does not involve radiation, so has the advantage that it can be repeated frequently. It is quick and cost effective and can be used on patients who are bed-bound or too unwell to attend radiology, making it particularly useful for stroke patients or those in intensive care.

The use of FEES in the acute setting has been shown to improve patient outcomes, with a reduction in chest infections. It also reduces dependence on alternative feeding, mortality and length of stay, while improving quality of life.

Sarah Thomson, Principal Speech and Language Therapist, explained:

“As a team, we are delighted to be able to introduce a FEES service to our patients. We are so grateful to Kingston Hospital Charity for enabling us to acquire this assessment tool which will make such a difference, particularly to our stroke patients or those in intensive care.”