Esophageal manometry is a test that shows whether your esophagus is working properly. The esophagus is a long, muscular tube that connects your throat to your stomach.
When you swallow, your esophagus contracts and pushes food into your stomach. Esophageal manometry measures the contractions and also measures the force and coordination of esophageal muscles as they move food to your stomach.
During esophageal manometry, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that contains pressure sensors is passed through your nose, down your esophagus and into your stomach. Esophageal manometry can be helpful in diagnosing certain disorders that can affect your esophagus.
Why it’s done?
Your doctor might recommend esophageal manometry if you’re having symptoms that could be related to an esophageal disorder.
Esophageal manometry provides information about the movement of food through the esophagus into the stomach. The test measures how well the muscles at the top and bottom of your esophagus (sphincter muscles) open and close, as well as the pressure, speed and pattern of the wave of esophageal muscle contractions that moves food along.
Esophageal manometry might be used to help diagnose:
- Diffuse esophageal spasm. This is characterized by multiple, forceful, poorly coordinated muscle contractions of your esophagus.
- Achalasia. This uncommon condition occurs when your lower esophageal sphincter muscle doesn’t relax properly to let food enter your stomach.
- Scleroderma. In many people with this rare progressive disease, the muscles in the lower esophagus stop moving, leading to severe gastroesophageal reflux.
- Non cardiac chest pain. Pain that is not related to your heart
If your doctor has recommended anti-reflux surgery to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you might need esophageal manometry beforehand.
Esophageal manometry is generally safe, and complications are rare. You might, however, have some discomfort during the test, including:
- Gagging when the tube passes into your throat
- Watery eyes
- Discomfort in your nose and throat
After esophageal manometry, you might have mild side effects such as a sore throat, nasal congestion or a minor nosebleed.
How you prepare
You might need to avoid eating and drinking for a time before esophageal manometry. Your doctor will give you specific instructions. Also, tell your doctor about medications you take. You might be asked not to take some medications before the test.
What you can expect?
This test is done as an outpatient procedure without sedation. Most people tolerate it well. You might be asked to change into a hospital gown before the test starts.
During esophageal manometry
- While you are sitting up, a member of your health care team sprays your throat with a numbing medication or puts numbing gel in your nose or both.
- A catheter is guided through your nose into your esophagus. The catheter may be covered by a water-filled sleeve. It doesn’t interfere with your breathing. However, your eyes might water, and you might gag. You might have a slight nosebleed from irritation.
- After the catheter is in place, you’ll be asked to lie on your back on an exam table or to remain seated.
- You then swallow small sips of water. As you do, a computer connected to the catheter records the pressure, speed and pattern of your esophageal muscle contractions.
- During the test, you’ll be asked to breathe slowly and smoothly, remain as still as possible, and swallow only when you’re asked to do so.
- A member of your health care team might move the catheter up or down into your stomach while the catheter continues its measurements.
- The catheter then is slowly withdrawn.
The test usually lasts about 30 minutes.When your esophageal manometry is complete, you can return to your normal activities.