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The esophagus is the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach. The esophageal manometry test measures the behavior of the esophagus, and of the sphincters that separate it from the throat and stomach. The test evaluates whether your esophagus moves fluids into your stomach normally. Doctors often order manometry on patients who have one or more of the following signs/symptoms:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Cough
  • Esophageal reflux
  • Heartburn
  • Diseases that can impair normal esophagus function (e.g. scleroderma)


Preparing for the Test

Note: Be sure the doctor ordering this test knows your medical history and allergies.

Twenty-four hours before the test: Stop taking calcium channel blocker medicine (e.g. verapamil, nifedipine, cardizem); nitrate medicine (e.g. isosorbide); nitroglycerin medicine, motilium (domperidone), reglan (metaclopramide), bethanechol and baclofen. These medicines affect the way the esophagus behaves. You may resume these medicines after the test.

Twelve hours before the test: Stop taking sedative medicine (e.g. valium, xanax). You may resume these medicines after the test.

Four hours before the test: Stop eating. You may not eat again until after the test.

One hour before the test: Stop drinking fluids. You may not drink again until after the test.


During the Test

You will be seated in the procedure room. The procedure nurse will numb and lubricate your nose with viscous lidocaine. It may be necessary to use numbing spray on your throat as well.

The procedure nurse will insert the manometry probe, which is a little larger and wider than a pencil, into your nose and then guide it into your stomach. The nurse will ask you to take sips of water to assist with the insertion. This part of the procedure can be uncomfortable, and generally takes 1-5 minutes to complete.

Once this initial probe placement has been achieved, you will be asked to lie down on your back, and the nurse will pull the probe out a few centimeters to get it in its final position.

Now the test can begin. It consists of two phases: liquid phase and viscous phase. During the liquid phase, you will be asked to perform ten swallows, each of which consists of approximately 1 teaspoon of saline. During the viscous phase, you will perform ten swallows of a viscous solution.

If your esophagus is particularly long, you may be asked to perform ten extra liquid swallows at the end of the study.

When the swallows portion of the study is complete, the nurse will remove the manometry probe, and you will be able to leave.

This test usually lasts between 30 and 45 minutes.


After the Test

You can resume normal diet and activities.

You may have a sore throat, which is normal. Over-the-counter lozenges and/or salt water gargles can help.

The study must be analyzed and then interpreted; this process usually takes between one and two weeks. After it is interpreted, someone from National Jewish Health will call you with the results. You can also call National Jewish Health to check on the status of your results, if you wish (303.398.1355).

If you think you may be experiencing any unusual symptoms or side effects, call your doctor.


This information has been approved by Dr. Philip Hanna; Seth Zunker, RN; and Sandy Joseph, RN (May 2012).