The purpose of this prospective study was to determine if fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) maintains high intra- and interrater reliability in detecting pharyngeal dysphagia and aspiration without the addition of FD&C Blue No. 1 to food. Twenty consecutive adults referred for a swallow evaluation participated. Nine subjects received blue-dyed food and 11 subjects received regular nondyed food, i.e., yellow pudding and white skim milk. Four variables were rated: (1) the stage transition characterized by depth of bolus flow to at least the vallecula prior to the pharyngeal swallow; (2) evidence of bolus retention in the vallecula or pyriform sinuses after the pharyngeal swallow; (3) laryngeal penetration defined as material in the laryngeal vestibule but not passing below the level of the true vocal folds either before or after the pharyngeal swallow; and (4) tracheal aspiration defined as material below the level of the true vocal folds either before or after the pharyngeal swallow. Three speech–language pathologists experienced in interpreting FEES results independently and blindly reviewed the digitized videotape three times. Intrarater agreements for the four variables with blue-dyed and non-blue-dyed food trials were 100% and monochrome trials ranged from 95% to 100%. Average kappa values for interrater reliability ranged from moderate to excellent agreement (0.61–1.00) for all viewing conditions. Kappa values for blue-dyed trials versus monochrome trials were 0.83 and for non-blue-dyed trials versus monochrome trials were 0.88, indicative of excellent reliability under both viewing conditions. FEES maintains both high intra- and interrater reliability in detecting the critical features of pharyngeal dysphagia and aspiration using either blue-dyed or non-blue-dyed foods. The endoscopist, therefore, can be assured of reliable FEES results using regular, non-dyed food trials.
Keywords Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing – Pharyngeal dysphagia – Aspiration – Blue dye – Deglutition – Deglutition disorders