Is Esophageal Manometry?
Esophageal manometry is a test used to help diagnose issues with
your esophagus or lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Your esophagus is the tube that
connects your throat to your stomach. Each time you swallow, the muscles in
your esophagus contract. This pushes the food you eat into your stomach. The
LES is a valve-like ring of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus that prevents
the contents of your stomach from moving back up your esophagus.
If the valve doesn’t work properly, your stomach contents can re-enter
your esophagus. This leads to acid reflux, heartburn, and gastroesophageal reflux
disease (GERD). Esophageal
manometry can help diagnose problems with swallowing or with your
Doctors Perform Esophageal Manometry
Your doctor may order this test if they suspect a problem with
your esophagus or LES. Symptoms that may prompt testing include:
- acid reflux
- chest pain
- feeling that food gets stuck in your chest
- nausea after eating
- pain or difficulty swallowing
for Esophageal Manometry
You must fast before your procedure. Fasting times vary, but
range from six hours to overnight. You should talk to your doctor for specific
Tell your doctor about all of your medications. You may need to
stop taking them temporarily before your test. Some medications that can affect
the results of the test include:
- calcium channel blockers
- nitrate products
- nitroglycerin products
Your doctor will use a numbing cream inside your nose. This makes
the procedure more comfortable.
Next, they will insert a thin tube through your nose. This tube
goes down your esophagus and into your stomach. It’s flexible and lubricated to
help pass easily through your nose and esophagus.
The doctor will then pull the tube back out very slowly. You will
be asked to swallow at different times as the tube is pulled out. Sensors are
located at various points on the tube. These measure the strength of your
esophageal muscles and LES.
The whole procedure should only take around 15 minutes.
Esophageal Manometry Feels
As the tube goes down your throat, you may feel like gagging or
other discomfort. For example:
- your eyes may water
- your nose may bleed slightly
- you might salivate more than usual
In rare cases, you may cough or vomit as the tube is being
placed. Positioning the tube only takes about a minute. The test should feel
less uncomfortable after that. You will probably adjust quickly to the tube’s
You will still be able to breathe normally once the tube is
placed through your nose.
Esophageal Manometry Results
Your doctor will use the information gathered by the sensors on
the tube to help diagnose any issues with swallowing or with your LES. They
will interpret the information and let you know when the results are available.
A normal result means that your LES and esophageal muscles are working
An abnormal result suggests a problem with your esophagus or LES.
Possible problems include:
- abnormal contractions of the muscles in your
- achalasia, a condition in which your LES does
not open properly to allow food to pass through
- hypertensive LES
- esophageal spasm
- nutcracker esophagus, a condition in which your swallowing
contractions are too powerful
- scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that can
paralyze your esophageal muscles
- weak LES
Your doctor will discuss your results at your next appointment.
If they have found any problems with your LES or esophageal muscles, they may
want to schedule follow-up tests or appointments.
of Esophageal Manometry
You might experience slight discomfort after the test. Common
- minor nosebleed
- sore throat
- stuffy nose
If you have a sore throat after the procedure, you may want to
try throat lozenges or gargling with salt water.
These mild symptoms usually clear up within several hours. Call
your doctor if you have any concerns.
In rare cases, you may develop serious problems, such as perforation. This means that the tube has
made a hole in your esophagus.
Another rare complication is aspiration, or inhaling something that you shouldn’t have, such as
saliva or the contents of your stomach. Aspiration can lead to pneumonia or
lung injury and is more common in people with difficulty swallowing.