Esophageal Manometry

Esophageal manometry is a test to measure how well the esophagus is working.

How an Esophageal Manometry is Performed

During esophageal manometry, a thin, pressure-sensitive tube is passed through your nose, down the esophagus, and into your stomach.

Before the procedure, you receive numbing medicine inside the nose. This helps make the insertion of the tube less uncomfortable.

After the tube is in the stomach, the tube is pulled slowly back into your esophagus. At this time, you are asked to swallow. The pressure of the muscle contractions is measured along several sections of the tube.

While the tube is in place, other studies of your esophagus may be done. The tube is removed after the tests are completed. The test takes about 1 hour.

Why is an Esophageal Manometry Performed?

The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth into the stomach. When you swallow, muscles in your esophagus squeeze (contract) to push food toward the stomach. Valves, or sphincters, inside the esophagus open to let food and liquid through. They then close to prevent food, fluids, and stomach acid from moving backward. The sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus is called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES.

Esophageal manometry is done to see if the esophagus is contracting and relaxing properly. The test helps diagnose swallowing problems. During the test, the doctor can also check the LES to see if it opens and closes properly.

The test may be ordered if you have symptoms of:

Heartburn or nausea after eating (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD)

Problems swallowing (feeling like food is stuck behind the breast bone)