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
The most common esophagus
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
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
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
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 ConsultedAmerican 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.
April 25, 2011
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
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