Esophagus tests measure muscle pressure and movement, coordination, and strength of the tube that connects the throat to the stomach (esophagus). They test how well the ring of muscles (sphincters) at the top and bottom of the esophagus work. Esophagus tests also measure the movement and volume of gas, liquid, and solid through the esophagus and its pH (acid or non-acid). See a picture of the esophagus.
The most common esophagus tests include:
Either pH or manometry testing can be combined with a test that measures the movement and volume of gas, liquid, and solid through the esophagus (multichannel intraluminal impedance testing, or MII). When MII is combined with manometry (MII-EM), it can show how the muscles of the esophagus are contracting when there is food or liquid in the esophagus. When MII is combined with pH testing (MII-pH), it can detect reflux from the stomach into the esophagus and measure both the volume and the acidity.
Tests on the esophagus are done to:
Esophagus tests are usually not done in people with GERD if their symptoms are well controlled with medicine.
To prepare for an esophagus test:
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
You will be seated. You may be given a spray medicine that numbs your nose and throat. For each esophagus test, a thin, flexible tube will be passed through your nose or mouth to your lower esophagus and stomach. This may make you feel like you have to gag. To help overcome this feeling, concentrate on breathing slowly. Your pulse and blood pressure may be monitored while the tube is being inserted.
If you have multichannel intraluminal impedance (MII) testing done with either pH or manometry, it will be done in very much the same ways as described above. The catheters used to do MII with pH or manometry testing will include instruments that measure volume of food and liquid in the esophagus as well as pH or pressure.
The local anesthetic sprayed into your nose and throat usually tastes slightly bitter and will make your tongue and throat feel numb and swollen.
When the tube goes through your nose or mouth into your esophagus, you may feel like coughing or gagging. The test may be easier if you try to take slow, deep breaths. You may not like the taste of the lubricant on the tube.
If you have a test that involves adding acid to your stomach, you may have heartburn pain and other symptoms of acid reflux.
If you have the wireless pH monitoring, you may be able to feel the capsule in your esophagus. You will not feel the capsule when it detaches and passes through your intestines and out of your body in your stool.
After the test is over, your nose and throat may feel sore. But this should improve within a day or so.
The chances that you will have problems from an esophagus test are rare.
Esophagus tests measure muscle pressure and movement, coordination, and strength of the tube that connects the throat to the stomach (esophagus). They test how well the ring of muscles (sphincters) at the top and bottom of the esophagus work. Esophagus tests also measure the movement and volume of gas, liquid, and solid through the esophagus and its pH (acid or nonacid). Results are usually available within a few days.
Many conditions can change the results of esophagus tests. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Other Works Consulted
- American Gastroenterological Association (2005). AGA technical review on the clinical use of esophageal manometry. Gastroenterology, 128(1): 209–224.
- American Gastroenterological Association (2008). American Gastroenterological Association medical position statement on the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterology, 135(4): 1383–1391.
- Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
- Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Hirano I, et al. (2007). ACG practice guidelines: Esophageal reflux testing. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 102(3): 668–685.
- Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology|
|Last Revised||April 25, 2011|
Last Revised: April 25, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
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