“Swallowing is a complex process involving sensory and motor nerves, various areas of the brain and more than 80 nerves and muscles. Any dysfunction in the system from chewing to sending the bolus of solid or liquid past the larynx into the esophagus can result in dysphagia,” explained Dr. Nadine Yammine, Laryngologist.
Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) is caused by any condition that affects the swallowing process; this includes neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, ALS and dementia, stroke, cancer or traumatic brain injury. Dysphagia can have a detrimental impact on quality of life and may cause aspiration (when food or drink enters the lungs), compromised nutrition and may lead to aspiration pneumonia and hospital admission.
“Providing a complete dysphagia and FEES clinic at CKHA has positively changed the lives of many patients,” said Dr. Yammine. “Our clinic has allowed patients to be assessed in a very timely manner by a team of professionals to provide patients the safest method to eat. Using the new technology of FEES and our expertise we are not only able to pinpoint the problematic aspect of swallowing, but we can also provide immediate therapeutic strategies and procedures which allow patients to still eat safely and often avoid a hospital admission. This has also allowed inpatients to go home sooner as they can eat safely.”
Following a clinical swallowing assessment with a Speech Language Pathologist, both inpatients and outpatients who require further examination are referred to CKHA’s dysphagia clinic. The FEES assessment delivers a reliable technique that involves passing a flexible endoscope through the nose to obtain a superior view of the upper digestive tract, while various foods and liquids are given to the patient to swallow. A FEES evaluation has many advantages, such as no exposure to radiation, and the opportunity to test sensation and assess the vocal cords. “We also have the ability to record and review exams and compare progress from previous exams, a tool particularly helpful with our stroke patients,” said Dr. Yammine.
These multi-disciplinary clinics offer patients at CKHA best possible care by providing a consultation with a Head and Neck Surgeon who sub-specializes in voice and swallowing and a Speech Language Pathologist who collaboratively generate a treatment plan tailored for each patient. This can include certain strategies to use while swallowing, diet modification and surgical procedures. The overarching goal of treatment is to improve patients’ quality of life, avoid hospitalization from aspiration pneumonia for patients in the community and help with earlier discharge home from hospital for inpatients with dysphagia.
Designed with portability in mind, the equipment can be transferred among different units to perform evaluations at the bedside – a future goal that the organization hopes to achieve to expand the delivery of safe, high quality care.
To arrange an interview, please contact:
Emily Field, Communications Specialist
Chatham-Kent Health Alliance
519.352.6401 x 5326
efield [at] ckha [dot] on [dot] ca