People who experience pain when swallowing or other swallowing difficulties may need to undergo esophageal manometry. The esophagus is a long, muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Esophageal manometry is a specialized test to determine how well the esophagus functions. It measures muscle contractions, a process known as peristalsis, that occur when a person swallows. Manometry also measures the force exerted by those muscles and how well the sphincters at the top and bottom of the esophagus open and close to allow food to pass on its way to the stomach.
During esophageal manometry, we pass a thin, flexible tube called a catheter through the nose, down through the esophagus and into the stomach. Esophageal manometry is helpful in diagnosing pain or difficulty swallowing as well as less common disorders such as achalasia and scleroderma that can affect the esophagus. Achalasia occurs when the lower sphincter fails to relax and allow food to enter the stomach. It can cause swallowing difficulties and regurgitation. Scleroderma is a rare progressive disease in which the esophageal muscles stop working, which leads to severe reflux disease (heartburn/acid reflux, GERD, esophagitis).
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