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.
When you swallow, your esophagus contracts and pushes food into your stomach. Esophageal manometry measures the contractions. 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 can affect your esophagus.
Your doctor might recommend esophageal manometry if you're having symptoms that could be related to an esophageal disorder.
Esophageal manometry provides information about the movement of food through the esophagus into the stomach. The test measures how well the muscles at the top and bottom of your esophagus (sphincter muscles) open and close, as well as the pressure, speed and pattern of the wave of esophageal muscle contractions that moves food along.
If your main symptom is difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing, your doctor is likely to order other tests, such as X-rays or upper endoscopy — a procedure by which your doctor can see your upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a tube — before or instead of esophageal manometry. These tests identify or rule out a narrowing, a complete blockage or an area of inflammation in your esophagus.
Esophageal manometry might be used to help diagnose:
If your doctor has recommended anti-reflux surgery to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you might need esophageal manometry to make sure you don't have achalasia or scleroderma, which GERD surgery can't help.
If you have chest pain not related to your heart, esophageal manometry might be recommended if you don't respond to treatment for GERD.
Esophageal manometry is generally safe, and complications are rare. You might, however, have some discomfort during the test, including:
After esophageal manometry, you might have mild side effects, which typically resolve within hours. Side effects can include:
You might need to avoid eating and drinking for a time before esophageal manometry. Your doctor will give you specific instructions. Also, tell your doctor about medications you take. You might be asked not to take some medications before the test.
Esophageal manometry can be performed using conventional manometry or high-resolution manometry. High-resolution manometry uses more pressure sensors and is more accurate at assessing pressure changes than is conventional manometry.
This test is done as an outpatient procedure without sedation. Most people tolerate it well. You might 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 can 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.