Doctors use motility tests to study how the different parts of the gastrointestinal tract are working and how food moves through the digestive system.
By studying how the muscles of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum contract and relax, doctors can determine what may be causing certain symptoms, including:
Doctors at Riley at IU Health use four types of motility tests:
- Esophageal motility study. The esophageal motility study looks at how the esophagus or swallowing tube is working. While your child is awake, a small tube (catheter) is passed through the nose and into the esophagus. The tube is attached to a computer. Your child is then given sips of water or food of choice and asked to swallow. As your child swallows, the catheter records the strength and smoothness of the muscles as they contract and relax.
- Antroduodenal manometry. An antroduodenal manometry measures how well the lower part of the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine work together. While your child is sedated, a small flexible tube (catheter) with special pressure sensors is passed through the nose and esophagus and into the stomach and small intestine. After your child is awake, the catheter is connected to a computer and measures the muscle contractions in the stomach and first part of the small intestine.
- Colonic motility study. A colonic motility study measures how the large intestine is working. A catheter equipped with special pressure sensors records the frequency and strength of muscular contractions in the colon. The catheter is placed by a colonoscopy or rarely an interventional radiology procedure.
- Anorectal manometry. An anorectal manometry tests the sphincter muscles that control bowel movements. Depending on your child’s age, he or she may be sedated during the test. A flexible tube (catheter) with special pressure sensors and a balloon at the tip is placed in the anus and rectum to measure muscle contractions. The balloon at the tip is inflated during the test to mimic stool. The catheter is connected to a computer that records how the muscles respond during attempts at defecation and in response to inflation of the balloon.
What to Expect
What to Expect
To prepare for motility tests, your child may need to follow specific dietary requirements and may need to do a colon clean out or be given an enema before the test.
The esophageal motility study takes about 30 minutes to perform. There is a little bit of discomfort associated with placing the catheter. A numbing medicine is applied to the nasal passages prior to placing the catheter to minimize this.
The antroduodenal manometry test and colonic motility study take at least four hours, including the time it takes to place the catheter and recover from sedation. There is minimal discomfort as the catheter is not moved after placement. Your child can watch TV or play with a tablet device during the test.
An anorectal manometry test takes about 10 minutes to perform if your child is sedated and about 30 minutes if your child is awake. Only limited information is obtained when a patient is sedated. Therefore, the sedated anorectal manometry is only offered to younger children and children who are incapable of cooperating during an awake procedure. There is minimal discomfort associated with the anorectal manometry even in the awake state.
You can support and calm your child by remaining with him or her prior to the procedure and during the entire process.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
Riley Outpatient Center at IU Health
Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition
575 Riley Hospital Dr
Indianapolis, IN 46202