Esophageal manometry

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Esophageal manometry


What is an esophageal manometry test?



Esophageal manometry measures pressure within the esophagus. This test may also be referred to as an esophageal motility or function study. Your doctor may recommend this test to determine if a swallowing problem is due to improperly working muscles in your esophagus.

When you swallow, muscles in your esophagus normally contract and relax in rolling waves (peristalsis). This action propels food and liquids toward your stomach. Muscular valves (sphincters) at the top and bottom of your esophagus open to let food and liquids in. Then, they close to keep stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus. When these muscles don't work properly, you may have:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn from reflux
  • Esophageal spasms
  • Pneumonia due to inhalation (aspiration) of stomach contents

During esophageal manometry, a tiny, pressure-sensitive tube is inserted through your nose — or sometimes your mouth — and into your esophagus. There, it measures the effects of muscle contractions as you swallow. The test takes less than one hour.

Manometry may also be used to measure pressures in your stomach (gastric motility), small intestine (small intestine manometry) and rectum (anorectal function).

Last Updated: 03/21/2006
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