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Esophageal mobility studies (EMS) is also known as esophageal manometry. It is a test performed to check the working of esophagus which is the passage that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Esophagus includes upper esophageal spinchter (UES), esophageal body and the lower esophageal spinchter (LES). Esophageal mobility study is a test recommended by the doctor for patients suffering from various esophageal disorders.

Esophageal manometry is a thin flexible tube that contains sensors that enter the esophagus and then to the stomach through the nose. EMS is used to measure the rhythm of the muscle contractions that take place in the esophagus while swallowing the food. This method is also performed to measure the coordination and force that is exerted by the esophageal muscles.


The doctor may recommend an esophageal manometry if the patient is suffering from esophageal-related disorders. This test is performed to provide information about the movement of food through the esophageal passage. The test helps in measuring the contractions of the esophagus when the food moves from the mouth to the stomach.

Esophageal manometry which is a diagnostic test is performed for people suffering with the following conditions. They are:

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Achalasia is a condition which does not allow the food to enter the stomach as it does not allow the lower esophageal muscles to relax.
  • Scleroderma is a condition in which the muscles in the lower esophagus stop moving which leads to severe gastrointestinal reflux.
  • Esophageal spasms


Esophageal manometry is generally safe and complications are rare. But for any medical procedure there may be a risk of developing complications. The risks involved in esophageal manometry procedure are:

During the procedure the patient may experience the following:

  • Watery eyes
  • Slight bleeding from the nose
  • Gagging when the tube passes through the throat
  • Discomfort experienced in the nose and throat

After the completion of the procedure the patient may experience the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Slight bleeding from the nose

In rare cases the patient may develop severe complications:

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Hole in the esophagus
  • Inhaling the contents present in the stomach that flow back into the esophagus


Getting ready for the procedure

  • The patient is supposed to inform the doctor about the medications taken such as vitamins, tablets, herbs, supplements etc.
  • The doctor will also want a medical history of the patient.
  • The patient is not allowed to eat or drink anything 8 hours before the test.

During the procedure

The esophageal manometry procedure begins by inserting a thin long flexible tube that is sent into the stomach through the nose. Before the procedure begins, the doctor gives the patient a medicine to numb the esophagus and this is given through the nose. The numbing medicine is given to the patient to make the insertion of the tube less uncomfortable. Once the tube is in the stomach, the tube is pulled back to the esophagus. At this time the patient is asked to swallow and the pressure of the muscle contractions is measured along the tube.

The studies of the esophagus are done when the tube is correctly placed in the patient’s esophagus. The tube is carefully removed once the test is completed. It takes about 1 hour to complete the test. It is not a painful process; however the patient may have a gagging sensation and discomfort while the tube passes through the nose and throat.

After the procedure

Once the esophageal motility study is completed the patient can return to his normal daily activities. He can also follow a normal diet. The patient may feel a temporary soreness in the throat. Gargling with salt water may give relief to the soreness in the throat.


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