An esophageal motility study is a test that checks how well your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach) squeezes and moves food along. During the procedure, a thin and flexible tube called a catheter will be inserted through your nose and placed into your esophagus. This allows the doctors to measure the movements and contractions of your esophagus.
An esophageal motility study can help diagnose the cause of various symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, chest pain, esophageal spasms, regurgitation (food coming back up), severe acid reflux, or in preparation for esophageal surgery.
If you need to find a gastroenterologist who can perform an esophageal motility study, you can reach out to The Gut Clinic UK in your area. They have specialists who can conduct the test and help you understand the results.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the exam. In general, you can eat normally the day before the procedure. However, starting from midnight, you should avoid eating or drinking anything except for your medications. It’s crucial to carefully follow these instructions given by your doctor.
Your doctor will also provide additional instructions regarding your medications. In most cases, you can continue taking your medications as usual. However, if you are taking blood thinners like Coumadin, warfarin, Plavix, aspirin, or anti-inflammatories, or if you have diabetes, there may be special instructions for you. Your doctor will give you clear guidance on how to manage your medications before the exam.
It’s important to pay close attention to these instructions to ensure the best possible outcome for your exam. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor for further clarification and guidance.
On the day of your exam at the Endoscopy center, you’ll need to arrive about 30 minutes before your scheduled time. This allows enough time for paperwork and preparation.
Once you’re in the procedure room, you’ll lie down on an exam table. The nurse will numb one of your nostrils with a medication called lidocaine. Then, a thin catheter will be gently inserted into the nostril. As the catheter moves into your esophagus, you’ll be asked to swallow to help guide it along. The nurse will first position the catheter to measure the squeeze of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a muscle that controls the flow of food into the stomach. Then, they’ll measure the squeeze of the muscles in the body of the esophagus. During this part of the exam, you’ll be asked to take 10-20 sips of water to help with the measurements. Once this is done, the exam is complete and the catheter will be removed. The whole procedure usually takes about 30-60 minutes.
Since there is no sedation involved in this exam, you’ll be allowed to leave the endoscopy unit as soon as you’re finished. In most cases, you can eat and drink normally after leaving. However, your doctor will provide specific instructions about activity, eating, and medications that you should follow before you’re discharged. It’s important to follow these instructions to ensure the best recovery.
Since the exam generates a lot of data that needs to be processed by a computer, the results won’t be ready right away while you’re still at the endoscopy unit. The doctor needs some time to interpret the results from the test. Usually, within a week, the doctor’s office will reach out to you with the exam results. They will contact you and let you know what the results show.
Esophageal motility is a very safe procedure, and complications are rare, happening in less than 1% of patients. Most complications are not life-threatening, but if a complication does occur, it may require hospitalization and surgery. Before the exam, the nursing staff will go over a consent form with you, explaining the potential risks and benefits.
Perforation or puncture of the esophagus is a very uncommon complication but it can happen. Sometimes it may be noticed during the exam, but other times it may not be apparent until later in the day. If a perforation does occur, it will usually require surgery and hospitalization.
It’s crucial for you to contact your Specialist right away if you experience any symptoms after the procedure, such as worsening abdominal pain, bleeding, or fever. This will help them assess and address any potential complications promptly.
Like any test, an esophageal motility study is not perfect. There is a small chance that abnormalities may be missed during the exam. It’s important to continue following up with your doctors as instructed and inform them of any new or ongoing symptoms you may have. This way, they can monitor your condition and address any concerns that may arise.
The alternatives to an esophageal motility study depend on why you need to have the test in the first place. In most cases, the esophageal motility study is the best way to evaluate how well the muscles in your esophagus are working. However, there are other tests that can also look at the esophagus. One option is an x-ray called an esophagram. This test can show the shape and movement of the esophagus. Another option is an upper GI/barium swallow, which involves swallowing a liquid that can be seen on x-rays to evaluate the esophagus. Your doctor will determine which test is most appropriate for your specific situation.
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