Your physician may request an esophageal manometry if you are suffering from heartburn or acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), symptoms. For example, trouble swallowing, feeling like food is sticking, pain or burning in the chest after eating, etc.
Esophageal manometry is a test that measures the pressure inside the lower part of the esophagus. The area of specialized muscle located at the bottom of the esophagus is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES prevents food or acid from backing up from the stomach into the esophagus. When you swallow, food travels down your esophagus and the LES opens to allow the food or liquid into your stomach, and then immediately closes. Esophageal manometry tests to see if your LES is contracting (preventing food back into the esophagus) and relaxing (allowing food into the stomach) properly.
What Happens During an Esophageal Manometry?
For the esophageal manometry, a thin, pressure-sensitive tube is inserted into your mouth or nose and passed into your stomach. Once in place, the tube is pulled back slowly into your esophagus.
Your physician will ask you to swallow, and the pressure of your esophageal muscles contractions will be measured along several sections of the tube. The tube relays the pressure readings to a computer, and much like an electrocardiogram, the pressure waves create a pattern that is read by your doctor to determine if your LES is performing normally or abnormally. It also allows your doctor to see if the rest of the esophagus is functioning properly.
Preparing for Esophageal Manometry
Patients undergoing an esophageal manometry should not eat or drink eight hours before the test (your doctor’s instruction may vary).
Because medications like PPIs, also known as proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Aciphex, Nexium, etc.), H2 blockers (Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac, etc.), antacids (Alka-Seltzer, Tums, Maalox, etc.), calcium channel blockers (Calan, Adalat, Isoptin, etc.) and nitrates (Isordil, Isosorbide, Nitrobid) may affect the results of esophageal manometry, patients should talk to their doctor about all medications they are taking and whether or not they need to be discontinued before the test. Do not discontinue use of medications without speaking with your doctor first. Medications, like the ones mentioned, could take a week before they are sufficiently out of your system.