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What is a a motility study?

During a normal swallow of food or liquid, muscles contract and relax in a very closely coordinated fashion. This contraction moves food or liquid from the mouth down the esophagus to the stomach. This whole sequence allows you to swallow while you are upright or lying down and normally keeps material from refluxing from the stomach into the esophagus. On swallowing, material is pushed from the mouth into the upper esophagus and a valve, the upper esophageal sphincter (UES), opens. Then a contraction wave begins at the UES and pushes food down to the bottom of the esophagus and LES. When food reaches the LES, the LES relaxes, allowing food to enter the stomach. This is a very complicated process that remarkably takes only about 8 seconds. The various contractions are the "motility" of a motility study.

A motility study, also called a manometry study, is an exam that measures pressure in the stomach and esophagus. This permits an exam of the physiology of the esophagus and tells your physician whether the sphincters are relaxing and contracting at the appropriate times. It also gives information about whether the contraction wave is coordinated or in spasm and whether the waves are too weak or strong.

A manometry study is generally done at a center where endoscopy is performed, such as a hospital, ambulatory endoscopy center, or surgical center. It is generally performed without medication or sedation. A thin tube is passed into the nose or mouth, into the esophagus, and down to the stomach. The tube is about as thick as a piece of spaghetti. It is attached to several pressure sensors and it is very slowly pulled out while the patient is instructed to swallow either nothing or sips of water. The test allows many pressure readings in the stomach and throughout the esophagus. These data are then analyzed with a computer and a doctor goes over the results. This gives your physician an overall profile of the pressures within the esophagus and its response to swallowing. A motility study can help guide your doctor to more appropriate treatment, particularly for patients who do not respond to standard medication.

By Mortin - Copyright 2009
Last modification 31/12/2009

What is a a motility study?- References