Joy McCann Culverhouse Center for Swallowing Disorders

Esophageal Manometry (Motility) Study

Esophageal manometry (EM) measures the environmental pressure of the esophagus and detects disorders of motor (muscle and nerve) function. This test will help to further characterize the features of your particular swallowing disorder and how your disorder affects different areas within the esophagus or its sphincters (valves). It is essential for the diagnosis of achalasia and esophageal spasm and helpful in the evaluation of acid reflux disease, especially prior to surgery. It determines the relationship of your symptoms with EM findings, and assesses whether or not you are a candidate for alternative medical management or surgery. Once identified, some disabling symptoms can be alleviated through appropriate treatment.

EM involves the placement of a small tube or catheter through the nose into the esophagus.  An anesthetic gel may be used to reduce the sensitivity of the nose and throat.  The tube is slowly advanced into the esophagus as you sip and swallow water from a straw.  This assists and eases the passage of the tube into the stomach.  Within the tube are sensors that measure the amount of pressure generated within the esophagus with each swallow. 

You will be instructed during the study to swallow only at indicated times to completely evaluate each swallow for accuracy of effort.  You may be asked to hold your breath for very short periods throughout the EM study to evaluate some of your swallowing efforts.  

We use the newest technology of high resolution manometry to assess the entire esophagus from the upper to the lower esophageal sphincters.  This test uses 32 pressure sensors rather than the older 4 sensor system to give high fidelity color photographs of esophageal function throughout the entire organ at rest and while swallowing.  A report with a color graph is produced and a copy sent to your physician.

In preparation for the test we suggest wearing loose-fitting clothing (front, button up style preferred).  Women are advised to wear a two piece garment.  Diet instructions will be provided prior to your visit.  In general, no solid food may be consumed prior to the placement of the EM tube or catheter.  When you schedule your visit you should inform the patient care coordinator of any medications you may be on.  Some medications may interfere with the study.

The data produced by the EM study is reviewed by our staff and a report is mailed to your physician.  You must arrange follow-up with your physician for the results of this study.

If you have any questions before the procedure, please ask.  We will strive to answer all of your questions.

For an informative article on EM please click the following link to Swallowing News and scroll down to page 2.

Esophageal Manometry Study