Esophageal manometry is a test used to measure the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve that prevents reflux of gastric acid into the esophagus) and the muscles of the esophagus. This test will tell your doctor if your esophagus is able to move food to your stomach normally. Abnormalities in the contractions and strength of the esophageal sphincter can result in pain, heartburn and/or difficulty swallowing.
A small, flexible tube is passed through your nose, down your esophagus and into your stomach. A topical anesthetic (pain-relieving medication) will be applied to your nose to make the passage of the tube more comfortable. The tube does not interfere with your breathing and is smaller than the width of a pencil. You will be seated while the tube is inserted.
You may feel some discomfort as the tube is being placed, but it takes only about a minute to place the tube. Most patients quickly adjust to the tube’s presence. Vomiting and coughing are possible when the tube is being placed, but are rare. During the test, you will be asked to swallow a small amount of water to evaluate how well the sphincter and muscles are working. The sensors also measure the strength and coordination of the contractions in the esophagus as you swallow.
The test lasts 10 to 15 minutes. When the test is over, the tube is removed. The gastroenterologist will interpret the recordings that were made during the test and inform you of the next step in your treatment process.