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It is a test to measure how well the esophagus is working.
How the test is performed
During esophageal manometry, a thin, pressure-sensitive probe is passed through the nose, through the esophagus, and into the stomach.
Before the procedure, an anesthetic is applied to the nose. This makes the introduction of the probe less bothersome.
After the tube is in the stomach, it will slowly pull back into the esophagus. At that time, you will be asked to swallow. The pressure of muscle contractions along several sections of the probe will be measured.
While the probe is in place, other studies of the esophagus can be done. The probe is removed after completing the tests. The exam lasts about an hour.
You should not eat or drink anything for eight hours before the test. If you will be tested in the morning, DO NOT eat or drink anything after midnight.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking. These include vitamins, herbs and other over-the-counter medicines and supplements.
What it feels like during the exam
A feeling of nausea and discomfort may occur when the tube is passed through the nose and throat. You may also feel discomfort in the nose and throat during the exam.
Reasons why the test is performed
The esophagus is the conduit that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. When you swallow, the muscles in the esophagus compress (contract) to help push the food into the stomach. The valves or sphincters inside the esophagus open to allow food and liquid to pass. Then they close to prevent food, liquid and gastric acid from being returned. The sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus is called the lower esophageal sphincter (SLE).
Esophageal manometry is done to see if the esophagus is contracting and relaxing properly. The test helps diagnose swallowing problems. During the exam, the doctor can also check the SLE to see if it opens and closes properly.
The test may be requested if you have symptoms of:
Gastric acidity or nausea after eating (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD).
Problems swallowing (feeling as if food is stuck behind the breastbone).
Lower esophageal sphincter pressure and muscle contractions are normal during swallowing.
Meaning of the abnormal results
Abnormal results may indicate:
A problem with the esophagus that affects your ability to move food to the stomach (achalasia).
A weak lower esophageal sphincter, which causes heartburn (GERD).
Abnormal contractions of the esophageal muscles that do not effectively mobilize food to the stomach (esophageal spasm).
The risks of this test include:
Hole or perforation in the esophagus (this rarely occurs)
Esophageal function studies; esophageal mobility studies
Esophageal manometry Esophageal manometry
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Esophageal manometry – diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures.