Esophageal manometry (muh-NOM-uh-tree) 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.
Esophageal manometry measures the rhythmic muscle contractions that occur in your esophagus when you swallow. The test 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 may affect your esophagus.
Your doctor may recommend esophageal manometry if you're experiencing symptoms that could be related to an esophageal disorder.
Esophageal manometry provides information about the movement (motility) of food through the esophagus and into the stomach. The test measures how well the circular bands of muscle (sphincters) at the top and bottom of your esophagus open and close, as well as the pressure, strength and pattern of the wave of esophageal muscle contractions that moves food along.
If your main symptom is difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or pain when swallowing (odynophagia), your doctor is likely to order other tests, such as X-rays, before or instead of esophageal manometry. These tests identify or rule out an obstruction in the esophagus — a narrowing, a complete blockage or an area of inflammation. Swallowing problems generally point more strongly to an obstruction than to a motility disorder.
Esophageal manometry may be used to help diagnose:
If your doctor has recommended anti-reflux surgery to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may need esophageal manometry to make sure you don't have achalasia, which GERD surgery can't help.
If you have chest pain not related to your heart, esophageal manometry may be recommended after an endoscopy to rule out GERD.
Esophageal manometry is generally safe, and complications are rare. You may, however, experience some discomfort during the test, including:
After esophageal manometry, you may have some mild side effects, including:
You may need to avoid eating and drinking for a certain length of time before esophageal manometry. Your doctor will give you specific instructions. Also, tell your doctor about any medications you're taking. You may be asked not to take some medications before the test.
Esophageal manometry is an outpatient procedure done without sedation. Most people tolerate it well. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown before the test starts.
The test usually lasts about 30 minutes.
When your esophageal manometry is complete, you may return to your normal activities.
Your doctor will receive the results of your esophageal manometry in one to two days. The test results can be part of a preoperative evaluation or help identify the cause of esophageal symptoms. Plan to discuss the results with your doctor at a follow-up appointment.