During the evaluation, the speech-language pathologists will observe your child eating, initiate therapy interventions specific to your child’s needs, make changes to your child’s feeding plan if necessary, and discuss recommendations for therapy or referral to other professionals as needed.
If your child shows signs of aspiration, which occurs when food or liquid enters the airway, your therapist may recommend further evaluation of the swallow via a videofluoroscopic evaluation of swallowing (VFSS) or a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES).
Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS)
A videofluoroscopic swallow study is a procedure used to test children experiencing difficulties with feeding and/or swallowing. The swallow study is performed in the Medical Imaging Department by a speech-language pathologist and a radiologist. Special equipment is used to provide a moving x-ray of your child's swallow.
During the test, your child is placed in a chair next to the x-ray equipment, which will be running while your child eats and drinks. The parent or speech-language pathologist provides your child with variety of foods and liquids mixed with barium, as well as liquid barium. The barium makes the food and liquid visible during the x-ray. The speech pathologist closely watches the x-ray to see how the food and drink move through the mouth and into the esophagus during drinking, chewing and swallowing and watches for any signs of aspiration. Once the test is complete, you will be given recommendations for feeding strategies and/or changes to your child's diet.
An appointment for a VFSS may be made by calling 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®). A physician’s order is required for this evaluation.
Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)
A FEES study is another test of swallowing that may be recommended when there is concern for aspiration. A FEES study is completed with a speech-language pathologist and otolaryngologist (ear-nose-throat doctor). A very small camera is inserted through the nose to directly view your child's throat and larynx when eating. The speech-language pathologist and doctor can see if and when aspiration occurs, and will make recommendations at that time. This test is completed in the otolaryngologist’s office and does not require the use of radiation.
An appointment for FEES may be made through the Otolaryngology Division by calling 312.227.6730.