Motility Testing (Esophageal Manometry)
Esophageal manometry (also known as a motility test or study) is performed to see if the esophagus is contracting and relaxing properly. The esophagus is a tube that moves food from your throat to your stomach. Any disruption of this process can cause difficulty swallowing.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a valve that is normally closed to prevent food and acid inside the stomach from entering the esophagus. If this valve opens when it should be closed, food and stomach acids can enter the esophagus, causing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Esophageal manometry measures the strength and patterns of muscles contractions in the esophagus. It can also determine whether the LES opens and closes properly. Esophageal manometry helps diagnose swallowing problems or GERD.
How to Prepare for Esophageal Manometry
Do not eat or drink anything 8 hours before the test. If your appointment is in the morning, do not eat or drink after midnight prior to the procedure. Your doctor will let you know if or when you should adjust or stop any medications you take.
What to Expect
Before the procedure, a nurse will apply a numbing cream inside your nose to minimize any discomfort you might feel. The doctor will then insert a thin, flexible, disposable catheter (the size of a spaghetti noodle) through the nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach while you swallow sips of water. This usually takes 10-15 seconds and is performed while you are sitting up.
When the tube is in position, you will be asked to lie down. The tube is connected to a computer and the doctor slowly pulls it back into your esophagus. He or she will then ask you to swallow. During this time, the computer measures and records the pressures in different sections of your esophagus.
Motility tests typically take about 20 minutes to complete. The catheter is then removed and the recorded data is analyzed by your doctor.
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