Achalasia is a rare disorder that makes it difficult for food and liquid to pass from the esophagus into your stomach. If you are experiencing symptoms that point to achalasia, your doctor may recommend an esophageal motility study to diagnose this rare disease. Below we will discuss in depth how achalasia is diagnosed via an Esophageal Motility Study.
Achalasia occurs as a result of nerve damage in the esophagus, which is the name for the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach that allows you to swallow food and liquid. As a result of this nerve damage, your lower esophageal sphincter, which relaxes to allow food to pass through, does not fully relax, making swallowing more difficult. Unfortunately, there's no cure for achalasia, however you can manage your symptoms with minimally invasive surgery.
Achalasia is often misdiagnosed or altogether missed because the symptoms of achalasia are similar to many other digestive orders. Symptoms include: regurgitation of food, coughing, heartburn, chest pain, weight loss, and, of course, difficulty swallowing, which is the most telltale symptom. Your doctor may mention an esophageal motility study to be able to fully diagnose whether or not you have achalasia.
An esophageal motility study—also called an esophageal manometry—is a test to measure the proper or improper functioning of the esophagus. During the study, a small, flexible tube is inserted through your nose into the esophagus. Your doctor will then ask you to swallow liquids like you normally would a few times throughout the study, and the tube that was inserted is attached to a recording device that measures rhythmic contractions in your esophagus to tell how well your lower esophageal sphincter relaxes when swallowing
How do I prepare for an esophageal motility study?
Avoid eating or drinking anything for 8 hours before your test. The test should only last for about 30-40 minutes. You will not need anesthesia; however, your doctor may apply a topical anesthetic around your nose where the tube is inserted. You may feel some discomfort when the tube is initially inserted, but the feeling should subside shortly after.