When is Manometry Used?

Manometry. Doctor in smock points with his finger to a search; blog: When is Manometry Used?

Manometry is a type of test that gastroenterologists use to check patients for motility disorders. GI motility disorders occur when the muscles in the digestive organs do not function properly, causing problems with food moving through the digestive system. 

What is Manometry?

Manometry tests are used to measure how well the muscles in the walls and sphincters of the digestive organs function. These tests use a special tube called a manometry catheter. These catheters are equipped with sensors that can measure the strength and movement of the digestive organs.

There are several types of manometry tests that can be done based on the patient’s symptoms and the location of the muscle dysfunction. Two common types of manometry tests are esophageal manometry and anorectal manometry.

Esophageal Manometry

Esophageal manometry is a test that evaluates a person’s ability to swallow. Along with an upper endoscopy, manometry can be used to check for esophageal motility disorders. It can help determine if the esophagus is working normally and can efficiently move food to the stomach when you swallow. The test measures the function of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a valve that prevents the contents of your stomach from flowing back into the esophagus (reflux). It also measures the function of the muscles in the esophagus.

Esophageal manometry may be used to evaluate patients with symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation
  • Chest pain

Before the test, a topical anesthetic is used to make the test more comfortable. During the test, a manometry catheter is passed through the nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. After the tube is in place, you will be asked to lie on your left side. Sensors on the catheter measure the strength of the lower esophageal sphincter and the muscles in the esophagus. The sensors send the measurements to a machine so the doctor can evaluate and interpret them. The test lasts about 10 – 15 minutes. 

Anorectal Manometry

Anorectal manometry is a test performed to check the function of the muscles in the rectum and the anal sphincter. It is used to evaluate people who have difficulty with bowel movements. They may be experiencing difficulty passing stool, constipation, or fecal incontinence. The test measures the pressure of the anal sphincter muscles, the reflexes that are needed for normal bowel movements, and the sensation in the rectum. 

A catheter with a balloon at the end is inserted into the rectum. Once the catheter is inserted, the balloon is slowly inflated. This stimulates the nerves and muscles in the rectum and anus to squeeze. The catheter also has sensors that are connected to a machine that measures the contractions and relaxations of the rectum and anal sphincter.  The test takes about 30 minutes. 

Make an Appointment

The team at Birmingham Gastroenterology has decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. This includes performing esophageal and anorectal manometry. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options, call us at (205) 271-8000.

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