OBJECTIVE To assess feasibility of flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) in awake dogs, determine whether specific variables associated with the oropharyngeal phase of swallowing can be recognized, and evaluate the safety and tolerability of FEES.
ANIMALS 6 healthy client-owned large- and giant-breed adult dogs.
PROCEDURES A topical anesthetic was applied to the nasal passage of each dog, and a fiberoptic endoscope was passed transnasally until the tip of the scope was positioned in the oropharynx. All dogs voluntarily drank colored water followed by consumption of a commercial canned diet and then a kibble diet mixed with food color. During each swallow, laryngeal and pharyngeal anatomic structures were evaluated and depth of bolus flow prior to the pharyngeal phase of swallowing was assessed. Evidence of bolus retention in the vallecula or pyriform sinuses and laryngeal penetration of the bolus were recorded.
RESULTS FEES was completed without major adverse events and was tolerated well by all 6 dogs. Mild, self-limiting epistaxis was noted for 2 dogs. The nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx were observed in all dogs; movement of food boluses through the esophagus was observed in 2 dogs, and food boluses in the stomach were visible in 1 dog. Pharyngeal and laryngeal function was considered physiologically normal in all dogs.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE FEES appeared to be a feasible diagnostic tool for use in large- and giant-breed dogs. Studies are warranted in dogs with oropharyngeal dysphagia to determine whether FEES can be tolerated and whether it can augment videofluoroscopy findings.