Swallowing Disorders Clinic

For adults who have swallowing difficulties that require assessment

The Swallowing Disorders Clinic at the University of Melbourne provides specialist assessment for people experiencing difficulty swallowing, using a Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES).

Who is this clinic for?

The clinic is for adults who are experiencing symptoms of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Swallowing problems can include coughing when eating and drinking, food getting stuck in your throat and difficulty chewing.

Stroke, head injury, progressive neurological disorders (such as Parkinsons disease) and head and neck surgery are examples of medical conditions that may cause swallowing problems.  This clinic is suitable for:

  • People with or suspected swallowing disorders of any origin
  • People who require active investigation for swallowing difficulties
  • People who are currently being managed by a GP and/or Speech Pathologist who require an instrumental assessment
  • People who can attend our clinic in Carlton, including clients who reside in low or high-level care facilities.

This clinic is not suitable for:

  • People requiring assessment of oesophageal stage swallowing difficulties
  • People who require a home visit
  • People with the following symptoms on the day of their appointment:

On the day of your appointment, we will discuss your medical history with you to ensure that this is taken into consideration throughout the procedure.

Results and recommendations will be provided to the referring Speech Pathologist or medical specialist for ongoing management.

How is this clinic run?

The clinic is run weekly throughout the year. We provide a comprehensive assessment and a written report and discussion with you.

Initial appointments are for up to 60 minutes and include an assessment using a Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES).

A follow-up appointment is made for approximately 1-2 weeks later to provide you with the report and discuss the findings with you.

We do not currently provide ongoing intervention for swallowing disorders in this clinic. However, we will liaise with your treating speech pathologist or medical professional to make recommendations or support you to find suitable intervention if needed.

The Swallowing Disorders Clinic is run by a speech pathologist who has extra training and is credentialed in the use of FEES.. Students from the University of Melbourne may observe or provide indirect help in this clinic but will not conduct any procedures.

You may be invited to participate in research as part of this clinic.

More about the FEES procedure

An experienced speech pathologist will carry out the examination. You will be asked to sit in a comfortable chair. A small, flexible telescope will be placed in one nostril and moved through your nose. When the end of the telescope is just beyond the back of your nose, a clear view of your throat is obtained.

You will be able to see your throat and vocal cords on a television monitor if you wish to. You may be given some food and fluid to swallow—this will be coloured with a safe blue or green dye to enable a clear view of swallowing. Your swallowing will be observed and videotaped to enable analysis at a later time.

The procedure is extremely safe and generally there are no complications associated with a FEES assessment. Some discomfort may be experienced while the endoscope is being passed through the nose—this will ease once the endoscope is in the throat. There is a small risk of bleeding from the nose or coughing, or feeling faint or lightheaded. These risks will be explained to you thoroughly prior to the procedure. You will be monitored by the speech pathologist throughout the procedure.

You do not need to fast or do anything special for the FEES procedure. You can go home immediately after the procedure.

What does the clinic cost?

The cost of the FEES instrumental assessment, including a follow up session and written report is $350.

Some clients may be able to access private health if they have suitable cover, and/or Medicare rebates (Chronic disease management) for some of the cost of this assessment.

For some clients, a speech pathology assessment of swallowing (without the FEES equipment) may be required in order to determine if the FEES assessment is necessary. If this is the case, we will discuss this with you prior to booking in the appointment. The cost of this appointment is $150.

The full fee must be paid on the day of the appointment.

Do I need a referral?

You do not need a referral to access this service, however prior to your appointment we require medical information about you in order to ensure that this procedure is suitable and safe for you. This can be provided from a current GP or speech pathologist.

Please use this form to self-refer
Request an appointment

We will contact you to find out more information prior to booking an appointment.

If you are a GP or speech pathologist referring a client to this service, please use this form. Swallowing Assessment referral form

You may contact Laura Chahda (Speech Pathologist / Clinical Educator) T: (03) 8344 8107 E:laura.chahda@unimelb.edu.au to discuss referrals.

Where is the clinic?

550 Swanston St, Carlton. Please check in with Reception (on your right as you enter off the street) when you arrive.