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How does Esophageal Manometry test for Esophageal Spasm?

Esophageal Manometry is a procedure for measuring the action or function of the esophagus to see if the swallowing mechanism built into the muscle is working and effective in swallowing.

It is also called an esophageal motility study or (EMS)

Since the esophagus has mucles in the lining to push the food or drink down the esophagus when eating it is important to test if the muscles are working right to swallow.

There are normal tight areas built into the esophagus called sphincters that are supposed to open and close depending on where the food or drink is when going down the esophagus. The sphincters are called the upper esophageal sphincter (UEP) and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Gravity is always at work here too, but our intake really depends on the swallowing mechanism to work fast and efficient between bites of food or between swallows of drinks.

The little waves of the muscles downward toward the stomach is called peristalsis.

The EMS tests for the strength, and function of the esophagus peristalsis.

If the swallowing mechanism isn't working right it is referred to as a 'disorder'. A few of the disorders would be spasms, difficulty swallowing or chest pain (not related to heart problems)

EMS is only a test for the swallowing mechanism of the esophagus and not other problems. There are other tests for esophageal strictures and problems such as those. This test is specifically for esophageal spasm or problems swallowing.

There is a newer test called High Resolution Manometry (HRM) that only takes about 10 minutes compared to the older procedure that took about 45 minutes.

The patient is not sedated or put to sleep because this might relax the esophagus muscle and interfere with testing the muscle.

The test includes:

  • putting a catheter in the nose down to the stomach
  • recording pressure changes and information
  • taking deep breaths and swallowing water
  • some discomfort

Since there is no anesthetic and the patient is awake there is no recovery time involved except if the patient feels s/he needs to rest after the procedure.

Esophageal Manometry is a test that helps with diagnosing other problems depending on the results of this procedure.


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