Oesophageal manometry can reveal why you experience pain when you swallow, or find out if you have acid reflux. It measures changes in the pressure and contraction pattern of your oesophageal muscles that occur when you swallow.

At The London Clinic, we use oesophageal manometry to diagnose disorders related to your oesophagus (the long, muscular tube that connects your stomach and mouth), as well as to decide what further treatment is needed.  It is also performed before any upper digestive system surgery to make sure your oesophagus is functioning properly before you have the operation.

Oesophageal manometry is often combined with 24-hour pH studies to assess acid levels but most patients at The London Clinic now have BRAVO assessment. This is where a small transmitter is implanted directly in the oesophagus, during an endoscopy, where it remains for a few days, before naturally detaching and being passed out of the body. It transmits messages wirelessly to a receiver worn on a waist belt allowing you to go about your every daily activities. The readings are analysed to find out if patients are within the normal range for acidity in the oesophagus.

How should I prepare for the test?

Before the test is done, you should let your doctor know if you’re taking any medication, such as antacids, as these can affect the pressure in your oesophagus and change the pattern of muscle contractions when you swallow.

Before the oesophageal manometry, your doctor will advise that you do not eat anything for six hours nor drink anything for two hours.

Oesophageal manometry: what to expect

Oesophageal manometry should only take around 30 minutes and does not require any sedation.

While you are upright or lying down, a local anaesthetic will be applied to the inside of your nostrils. A thin tube connected is then passed down your nose, through your oesophagus and into the top of your stomach. When the tube is in position, your doctor will ask you to breathe slowly and avoid swallowing unless you’re asked to.

The tube is then slowly pulled out through your oesophagus while the device measures the pressure in your oesophagus at one centimetre intervals. You may be given small amounts of water to swallow so that the manometer can measure any changes in pressure that occur when the muscles in your oesophagus contract.

Recovering from the test

Side effects from oesophageal manometry are minor and may include a sore throat, a blocked nose, or a mild nosebleed. Because the test isn’t performed under general anaesthetic or sedation, you should recover quickly and if you do experience any side effects they should subside within a few hours.