Esophageal manometry is used to evaluate the movement (motility) of food through the esophagus and into the stomach. The test measures how well the circular bands of muscle (sphincters) at the top and bottom of your esophagus open and close, as well as the pressure, strength and pattern of the wave of esophageal muscle contractions that moves food along.

Your doctor may recommend esophageal manometry if you're experiencing symptoms that could be related to an esophageal disorder. Those symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Pain when swallowing (odynophagia)

Esophageal manometry may be used to help diagnose a number of conditions:

  • Swallowing problems (dysphagia). Swallowing problems are more likely to be caused by such things as blockages, narrowing (strictures) or inflammation than by motility issues, so those causes should be ruled out by other tests before resorting to manometry. Diffuse esophageal spasm is a rare swallowing problem that can be identified by manometry. It is defined by multiple, forceful, poorly coordinated muscle contractions of your esophagus.
  • Achalasia. This uncommon condition occurs when your lower esophageal muscle (sphincter) doesn't relax properly to let food enter your stomach. Muscles in the wall of your esophagus are often weak as well. This can cause difficulty swallowing and regurgitation of food back up into your throat.
  • Scleroderma. In many people with this rare progressive disease, the muscles in the lower esophagus cease to move, leading to severe gastroesophageal reflux.

If you're considering undergoing anti-reflux surgery to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal manometry may be recommended to make sure you don't have achalasia or spasm, which won't be helped by GERD surgery.

If you have chest pain not related to your heart, esophageal manometry is generally only recommended if you've had an endoscopy, GERD has been ruled out and you have some swallowing issues

June 06, 2012