Background: As with most neurologic conditions, stroke involves impairment of the swallowing mechanism. This could be a spectrum of issues, the worst of which is aspiration. At the same time, the prolonged presence of a naso-gastric tube (NGT) has its own morbidity. Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) is one reliable method to assess the structural and functional status of the oropharynx and larynx, during the swallowing process. Objective: To study the utility of FEES in decision-making with respect to resumption of oral intake in stroke patients. To document the findings of FEES in stroke patients, and to look for correlations between these and the site of stroke. Materials and Methods: Protocol insertion of naso-gastric tube in all stroke patients, at presentation. Initial assessment by a neurologist and swallowing therapist, depending on cognitive status of the patient. All patients underwent MRI Brain with diffusion weighted sequences. After detailed clinical examination, they underwent swallow exercises under the supervision of a trained swallowing therapist. The decision to remove NGT was taken clinically by the combined decision of neurologist and swallowing therapist. Then all patients underwent FEES by the ENT surgeon. The final decision for NGT removal was taken as per the FEES findings. Result: Sixteen stroke patients underwent the FEES procedure during a period of six months. The oropharyngeal and laryngeal findings varied depending on the area of stroke involvement. Of these, change in decision regarding swallowing rehabilitation or NGT removal was needed in four patients, following the FEES findings. Conclusions: FEES is an easy, efficient and reliable method to evaluate the swallowing status in stroke patients. In combination with good bedside clinical examination and swallow exercises, it can be a good tool in assessing patients with post- stroke dysphagia. Post-stroke rehabilitation and prevention of aspiration pneumonia can be effectively done with the help of FEES.
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Sa Radhakrishnan, Menon, U. Kb, and Anandakuttan, Aa, “A combined approach of bedside clinical examination and flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing in poststroke dysphagia: A pilot study”, Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, vol. 16, pp. 388-393, 2013.