Friday, June 8
Esophageal motility testing determines how well the muscles of the esophagus are working. For motility testing, a thin tube (catheter) is passed through a nostril, down the back of the throat, and into the esophagus. On the part of the catheter that is inside the esophagus are sensors that sense pressure. When the muscle of the esophagus contracts, a pressure is generated within the esophagus that is detected by the sensors on the catheter. The end of the catheter that protrudes from the nostril is attached to a recorder that records the pressure. During the test, the pressure at rest and the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter are evaluated. The patient then swallows sips of water to evaluate the contractions of the esophagus.
Esophageal motility testing has two important uses in evaluating GERD. The first is in evaluating symptoms that do not respond to treatment for GERD. The abnormal function of the esophageal muscle sometimes causes symptoms that resemble the symptoms of GERD. Motility testing can identify these abnormalities and lead to a diagnosis of an esophageal motility disorder. The second use is evaluation prior to surgical or endoscopic treatment for GERD. In this situation, the purpose is to identify patients who also have motility disorders of the esophageal muscle. The reason for this is that in patients with motility disorders, some surgeons will modify the type of surgery they perform for GERD.