Esophageal manometry measures the pressure and patterns of muscle contractions in your esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects your throat to your stomach. With each swallow, the esophagus muscle contracts to push food into the stomach. At the lower end of the esophagus, a valve (the lower esophageal sphincter) remains closed except when food or liquid is swallowed or when you belch or vomit. Abnormalities in the contractions and strength of the esophagus or in the lower esophageal sphincter can result in chest pain, heartburn, and/or difficulty swallowing. Esophageal manometry is used to diagnose the conditions that can cause these symptoms.
First, your nostril will be numbed with a special cream. Then a thin, flexible, lubricated tube will be passed through your nose and into your stomach while you swallow sips of water. Mild, brief gagging may occur while the tube is passed through the throat. When the tube is in position, you will sit upright or lie on your back while the tube is connected to a computer. Once the test begins it is important to breathe slowly and smoothly, remain as quiet as possible and avoid swallowing unless instructed to do so. As the tube is slowly pulled out of your esophagus, the computer measures and records the pressures in different parts of your esophagus.
In some situations, correct placement of the tube may require passage through the mouth or passing the tube using endoscopy (a procedure that uses a thin, flexible lighted tube). Your physician will determine the best approach.
After the test, you may experience mild sore throat, stuffy nose, or a minor nosebleed; all of which usually resolve within hours. It is important that you follow all of your doctor’s instructions for before and after the procedure.
As with any medical procedure, there are certain risks. While serious side effects of this procedure are extremely rare, it is possible that you could experience irregular heartbeats, aspiration (when stomach contents flow back into the esophagus and are breathed into the lung), or perforation (a hole in the esophagus). During insertion, the tube may be misdirected into the windpipe before being repositioned. Precautions are taken to prevent such risks, but we believe the risks are far outweighed by the benefits of this test.