Swallow Evaluations

At Wake Forest Baptist Health, our speech-language pathologists use the latest exams and technology to assess swallowing and aspiration and then develop an individualized swallowing therapy treatment plan for each patient.

Types of Swallowing Evaluations

Wake Forest Baptist speech-language pathologists may use one or more of the following tests to examine your muscles and see how foods and liquids are swallowed.

Clinical Swallow Evaluation (CSE)

During a CSE, a non-invasive swallowing evaluation, a speech-language pathologist looks at the movements of your mouth and face and assesses breathing and secretion (saliva) management. Then, you are given various foods and liquids so that your chewing and swallowing can be observed. The speech-language pathologist will ask you about eating habits and any observed eating difficulty.

Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)

The FEES is a swallowing evaluation where a small endoscope is gently passed through your nose to visualize your throat from above, while swallowing. You are given various foods and liquids so that swallowing can be viewed in real-time. Food and liquid is typically dyed to allow for greater visualization.

Pharyngeal Function Study (PFS)

A PFS, also known as a modified barium swallow study, is an X-ray of the swallowing process performed in conjunction with a radiologist. This involves a very low dose of radiation exposure. The test is typically done for patients who have difficulty swallowing liquids, solids or medications. You are given a variety of foods and liquids mixed with barium, a contrast material that shows up on the X-ray when you swallow.

How to Prepare for a Swallowing Evaluation

You may eat before your swallowing test, unless told different by your speech-language pathologist or doctor.

If the patient is an infant, young child or someone who has difficulty comprehending the reason for the evaluation, we ask that they are not fed approximately 4 hours prior to their evaluation so that they will be hungry and willing to eat for the evaluation.

If you have particular food or liquid difficulty, please bring a sample of that food or liquid for use during testing. If your difficulty is more general, we will have a variety of options available for you.