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The Yale Pharyngeal Residue Severity Rating Scale: An Anatomically Defined and Image-Based Tool


The Yale Pharyngeal Residue Severity Rating Scale was developed, standardized, and validated to provide reliable, anatomically defined, and image-based assessment of post-swallow pharyngeal residue severity as observed during fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES). It is a five-point ordinal rating scale based on residue location (vallecula and pyriform sinus) and amount (none, trace, mild, moderate, and severe). Two expert judges reviewed a total of 261 FEES evaluations and selected a no residue exemplar and three exemplars each of trace, mild, moderate, and severe vallecula and pyriform sinus residue. Hard-copy color images of the no residue, 12 vallecula, and 12 pyriform sinus exemplars were randomized by residue location for hierarchical categorization by 20 raters with a mean of 8.3 years of experience (range 2–27 years) performing and interpreting FEES. Severity ratings for all images were performed by the same 20 raters, 2 weeks apart, and with the order of image presentations randomized. Intra-rater test–retest reliability, inter-rater reliability, and construct validity were determined by pooled multi-category multi-rater kappa statistics. Residue ratings were excellent for intra-rater reliability for vallecula (kappa = 0.957 ± 0.014) and pyriform sinus (kappa = 0.854 ± 0.021); very good to excellent for inter-rater reliability for vallecula (kappa = 0.868 ± 0.011) and pyriform sinus (kappa = 0.751 ± 0.011); and excellent for validity for vallecula (kappa = 0.951 ± 0.014) and pyriform sinus (kappa = 0.908 ± 0.017). Clinical uses include accurate classification of vallecula and pyriform sinus residue severity patterns as none, trace, mild, moderate, or severe for diagnostic purposes, determination of functional therapeutic change, and precise dissemination of shared information. Scientific uses include tracking outcome measures, demonstrating efficacy of interventions to reduce pharyngeal residue, investigating morbidity and mortality in relation to pharyngeal residue severity, and improving training and accuracy of FEES interpretation by students and clinicians. The Yale Pharyngeal Residue Severity Rating Scale is a reliable, validated, anatomically defined, and image-based tool to determine residue location and severity based on FEES.

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Conflict of interest

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest.


Section of Otolaryngology, Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine.

Author information

Correspondence to Steven B. Leder PhD, CCC-SLP.



See Tables 6 and 7.

Table 6 Definitions for severity of vallecula residue
Table 7 Definitions for severity of pyriform sinus residue

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Neubauer, P.D., Rademaker, A.W. & Leder, S.B. The Yale Pharyngeal Residue Severity Rating Scale: An Anatomically Defined and Image-Based Tool. Dysphagia 30, 521–528 (2015).

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  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Pharyngeal residue
  • Vallecula
  • Pyriform sinus
  • Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing
  • Scaling