Esophageal Motility and Manometry

What is esophageal manometry?

Esophageal manometry, also called esophageal motility, is a procedure typically used to evaluate suspected disorders of motility or movement of the esophagus. These conditions include achalasia, diffuse esophageal spasm, nutcracker esophagus and hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter. Difficulty swallowing, for both solids and liquids, is a typical symptom for all these disorders.

Other patients with spasm disorders may have the test done to diagnose chest pain that isn’t thought to be caused by a cardiac condition, and the test may also be performed prior to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) surgery. The test, however, is not useful for anatomical disorders of the esophagus (i.e., disorders that distort the anatomy of the esophagus), such as peptic strictures and esophageal cancer.

How do you prepare for esophageal manometry?

Do not eat or drink anything after 12 a.m. (midnight) on the evening before the surgery. (If you are diabetic, please speak with your primary care doctor.) You may, however, take scheduled medications with small sips of water up until two hours before the study.

What should you expect on the day of your procedure?

A technician will place a catheter into your nose and guide it into your stomach. (Patients are not sedated, because sedatives would alter the functioning of the esophageal muscles.) The catheter will then be slowly withdrawn, allowing it to detect pressure changes and to record information for later review. At different times during the procedure, the patient will be asked to take a deep breath or swallow some water.

Overall, the procedure takes about 45 minutes, and the degree of discomfort will vary among patients. After the procedure is complete, patients can usually resume normal activities.

Contact Us

To request an appointment or more information about the procedure, please contact us at (617) 732-7426.

Additional Information

At the Center for Gastrointestinal Motility at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), gastroenterologists are establishing new recommendations and protocols for the evaluation and care of patients with esophageal and motility disorders, including high-risk patients.

Watch the Diagnosis and Treatment for Esophageal and Motility Disorders video. Read the Esophageal and Motility Disorders - New Recommendations for Diagnosis and Treatment video transcript.

Gastroenterology Advances Newsletter article: Center Addresses Esophageal and Motility Disorders in High-risk Populations, Suggests new Recommendations for Diagnosis and Treatment.

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