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Oesophageal Manometry

A test of swallowing and oesophageal function. 

What is oesophageal manometry?

Oesophageal manometry (pressure measurement) involves passage of a tube with pressure sensors into your oesophagus (gullet or food pipe) to investigate how it moves, contracts and relaxes (oesophageal motility).


Why might I need oesophageal manometry?

The oesophagus is the muscular tube that propels food from the mouth to the stomach. If your oesophagus does not function properly, it may lead to some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. You may have a sensation that food or drink passes down your throat or chest slowly, or gets stuck and/or held up in the neck or chest for a prolonged period.

  • Regurgitation, or throwing up, of food or liquid

  • Chest pain - Once cardiac (heart-related) causes are excluded, disorders of oesophageal function are the most common cause of chest pain. Chest pain arising from the oesophagus is often indistinguishable from chest pain arising from the heart.

  • Less commonly, it is performed for diagnosis of belch-related disorders

If you have some of these symptoms, and first-line tests such as endoscopy have not provided an explanation, then your specialist may recommend you to have oesophageal manometry performed. 

Oesophageal manometry is also routinely performed prior to 24-hour acid reflux monitoring for assessment of GORD.


What happens during oesophageal manometry?

While sitting comfortably, you will receive a local anaesthetic spray in the nose. Then, a thin tube (manometry catheter) will be passed through your nose, into your oesophagus and down to your stomach. Once secured in position, you will be asked to drink some water and eat some rice or other soft food (if you wish you can even bring in any food that typically triggers your symptoms), and the movement of your oesophagus while drinking and eating is measured. The test takes no more than 15-20 minutes.


What might the oesophageal manometry test reveal?

There are several possible findings from the study:

  • Major motility disorder of the oesophagus may be found. Such disorders include achalasia, distal oesophageal spasm and hypercontractile (jackhammer) oesophagus. Your oesophageal specialist doctor can then recommend appropriate therapy for these disorders

  • Minor or non-specific abnormalities, including a finding termed 'ineffective oesophageal motility'. Despite the name, this is not a finding of great significance and in fact is not infrequently found in completely healthy people with no symptoms. If you are told that you have this, you should see an oesophageal specialist to make sure there is no other cause for your symptoms.

  • Normal motility, i.e. normal contraction and relaxation of the oesophageal muscle. You need to see your oesophageal specialist to find an alternative explanation for your symptoms.


How and where can I get an oesophageal manometry test in Sydney?

You need to first see an oesophageal doctor for a consultation where your specialist will determine if oesophageal manometry is an appropriate test for you. Book an appointment to see A/Prof Santosh Sanagapalli who specialises in oesophageal manometry and directs the lab at St Vincent's Hospital.

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