The esophagus is the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus there is a valve (sphincter muscle) that opens to let food enter the stomach after it is swallowed. If this valve becomes weakened, or if the esophageal muscles aren’t contracting as well as they should, the patient experiences problems swallowing.
An esophageal manometry is performed to check the strength of the esophageal-stomach valve, as well as examine the pressures and coordination of the esophageal muscles at rest and when the patient swallows.
During the test, a thin, flexible tube is inserted through the patient’s nose and down into the esophagus (a numbing ointment will be applied to the nose). The tube, which is equipped with a catheter containing pressure sensors, will be slowly advanced into the stomach while the patient swallows, to help it along.
The tube is connected to a nearby computer. As the patient alternately rests and sips small amounts of water, sensors record pressure levels at various points, from the sphincter to the upper esophagus, sending the measures to a computer that is read by the gastroenterologist. This part of the test requires the patient to be still, with steady breathing, and to swallow only when asked. The procedure takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Once the study is complete, the tube is withdrawn.
The patient should bring a complete list of current medications. Fasting, for six or more hours, will be required to ensure the esophagus is clear.
Conditions treated or diagnosed by this procedure: