Esophageal Manometry

The esophagus is a long tube that connects your throat to your stomach. A muscle in the wall of the esophagus contracts to push food down to your stomach while the sphincter, another muscle, at the lower region of the esophagus remains closed when food or liquid is swallowed or when you burp or vomit.  

What Is Esophageal Manometry And Why Is It Performed?

This test measures the pattern and the pressures of muscle contractions in your esophagus. Abnormalities in the contractions of these muscles or the sphincter at the lower end of the esophagus often results in heartburn, pain, and/or difficulty swallowing. Esophageal manometry is used to diagnose the conditions that causes these issues.

How Should I Prepare For Esophageal Manometry?

You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the examination. An empty stomach allows for a safe exam. It is important that you inform your doctor of any medications you are taking as some of them can affect esophageal pressure and the natural muscle contractions needed for swallowing. You may be asked to temporarily stop taking them before a test.

What Can I Expect During The Test?

A healthcare professional will apply a cream to numb the inside of your nostrils. A thin, flexible and lubricated tube will then be passed through your nose and into your stomach. This may cause some patients to gag; it helps to swallow sips of water as the tip of the tube moves through the lower part of the esophagus. When the tube is in position, you will be asked to sit or lie on your side or back. Once the test begins, you must breathe smoothly and slowly and remain as quiet as possible and avoid swallowing unless your doctor instructs you to do so.

When the tube is slowly pulled out of your esophagus, a computer measures and records the pressures in different sections of the esophagus.  The test typically takes 45 minutes to complete.

What Can I Expect After The Test?

After the exam, you may have a sore throat; over the counter lozenges can help provide relief, however a sore throat should improve within a day. You may also have a stuffy nose or minor nosebleed after the procedure, but this also typically disappears within 24 hours. Unless instructed otherwise by your healthcare professional, you may resume normal meals and activities after the procedure.

What Are The Possible Risks Associated With Esophageal Manometry?

Although serious side effects of the procedure are rare, you could possibly experience aspiration (when stomach contents flow back into the esophagus and are inhaled into the lungs), irregular heartbeats, or perforation (a hole in the esophagus). During the procedure, insertion of the tube could be misdirected into the windpipe before being reposition. Healthcare professionals take extreme precaution to minimize these risks in favor of benefits of the test.