Esophagus Health: Esophageal Manometry

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Guest: Janice Freeman – Endoscopy-Gastroenterology

Host: Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry

Dr. Linda Austin: I am Dr. Linda Austin. I am talking today with Janice Freeman who is program coordinator for the esophageal function laboratory at the Digestive Disease Center here at the Medical University of South Carolina. Janice, let’s talk today about esophageal manometry. What is the purpose of that procedure?

Janice Freeman: The esophageal manometry is a function test to evaluate the function of the esophagus. A lot of times we get patients that have problems swallowing. In order to determine if it is a functional problem, we do a test called esophageal manometry.

Dr. Linda Austin: What is involved in that from the patient’s point of view? Do they have to prep, or do they just come in for it?

Janice Freeman: Typically, the patient comes in. We ask them to fast at least three hours before the procedure. When they come in, they will not be sedated. We will use some lidocaine to numb the inside of their nose and the back of their throat. The test itself involves passing a small flexible tube through their nose that goes down into their stomach. The tube actually has sensors on it, so whenever they swallow, we get a reading on the computer that basically gives us an image of what happens when they swallow.

Dr. Linda Austin: How long does the whole procedure take?

Janice Freeman: The test itself takes on average about 10 to 15 minutes.

Dr. Linda Austin: And, how uncomfortable is that?

Janice Freeman: It is a little uncomfortable. The numbing medication does help a great deal. For the most part, what they feel is the pressure of the tube going in. It is not necessarily painful.

Dr. Linda Austin: Does it make them gag?

Janice Freeman: Sometimes there is some gagging that occurs. Usually the numbing medication does help with that, but if you have a very strong gag reflex, sometimes you still experience some gagging.

Dr. Linda Austin: Have you had it down to yourself?

Janice Freeman: I have.

Dr. Linda Austin: And, on a scale of 1 to 10 in discomfort, what would you give it?

Janice Freeman: I would say, probably, a 4.

Dr. Linda Austin: But, it is pretty brief?

Janice Freeman: It is pretty brief.

Dr. Linda Freeman: I see. And, so the kinds of problems, then, that can be detected include, what?

Janice Freeman: Usually it is done for patients that have problems swallowing. It is also done prior to anti-reflux surgery just to ensure that the patient does have a normal functioning esophagus prior to surgery. Also, patients that have acid reflux disease, we do that test in conjunction with another test.

Dr. Linda Austin: Janice, thanks so much for talking with us today.

Janice Freeman: You are more than welcome. Thank you.

If you have any questions about the services or programs offered at the Medical University of South Carolina or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please call MUSC Health Connection: (843) 792-1414.

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