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Esophageal Manometry for Swallowing Disorders

Esophageal manometry is an excellent diagnostic tool for people with heartburn, swallowing problems, or chest pain. During this procedure, the patient’s throat and nasal cavity are numbed and a slender, flexible tube is passed into the upper GI tract through the nose. An Ogden Clinic gastroenterologist guides the tube from the back of the throat, down the esophagus, and into the stomach through the esophageal sphincter valve to determine the esophagus problem.

Esophageal manometry differs from an EGD test in that there is not a camera system attached to the tube. Instead, the tube has solid-state or liquid-filled pressure transducers designed to measure pressures (manometry) generated by the muscles in the esophagus. This test is used to diagnose conditions such as:

  • Non-cardiac chest pain
  • Painful swallowing
  • Dysphagia
  • Regurgitation
  • Heartburn (GERD)

How does esophageal manometry work?

Every time you swallow, food travels through the esophagus into the stomach in a wave-like motion. The manometry tube is designed to measure pressure in these areas. It measures the strength and coordination of the esophagus and if there are any abnormal contractions that are causing the patient’s swallowing problems.

Esophageal manometry at Ogden Clinic will not only monitor the swallowing movement, but also how well the esophageal sphincter is working to prevent reflux. People who regurgitate frequently or have acid reflux (GERD) are good candidates for an esophageal manometry.

Preparing for Esophageal Manometry

Patients preparing for esophageal manometry need to fast 4 to 6 hours prior to their appointment; this includes eating and drinking. Certain medications may interfere with your test, so your doctor may ask you to discontinue certain prescriptions for 24 hours prior to your esophageal manometry.

Patients are not sedated during esophageal manometry, but a topical anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) is administered inside the nasal passage to make the tube passing more comfortable. You may feel some discomfort during tube placement, but it only takes about a minute to guide the tube into place.

You’ll lie on your left side while the test is in process and will be asked to take small sips of water to measure swallowing function and determine potential dysphagia treatments. The test takes about 15 minutes to complete and you may resume your normal activities and diet afterward.

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