Esophageal Manometry
(Esophageal Motility Study)

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What is esophageal manometry?

Esophageal manometry is a procedure for determining how the muscle of the esophagus and the sphincter (valve) works by measuring pressures (manometry) generated by the esophageal muscles and the sphincter.

When is esophageal manometry used?

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Esophageal manometry is used primarily in three situations:

  • To evaluate the function of the sphincter and muscles of the esophagus when there is reflux (regurgitation) of stomach acid and contents back into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD)
  • To determine the cause of problems with swallowing food (dysphagia) when an endoscopy is normal
  • When there is chest pain that may be coming from the esophagus after the heart as a cause of chest pain has been ruled out

How is esophageal manometry performed?

At the start of the esophageal manometry procedure, one nostril is anesthetized with a numbing lubricant. A flexible plastic tube approximately one-eighth inch in diameter is then passed through the anesthetized nostril, down the back of the throat, and into the esophagus as the patient swallows. Once inside the esophagus, the tube allows the pressures generated by the esophageal muscle to be measured when the muscle is at rest and during swallows. The procedure usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2014

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