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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Esophagus Tests
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Your esophagus is the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. It moves food and liquid down to the stomach. Esophagus tests can check how well the muscles in the tube work, how strong the tube is, and the pH (acid content) of the tube. They also can find out how much gas, liquid, and solid move through the esophagus and how well they pass through.
The most common tests include:
Either pH or manometry testing can be combined with a test that measures the movement and volume of gas, liquid, and solid through the esophagus. This test is called a multichannel intraluminal impedance test, or MII. When MII is combined with manometry, it's called MII-EM. It can show how the muscles of the esophagus are contracting when there is food or liquid in the esophagus. When MII is combined with pH testing, it's called MII-pH. It can detect reflux from the stomach into the esophagus and measure both how much reflux there is and how acidic it is.
Tests on the esophagus are done to:
These tests are usually not done if you have GERD and your symptoms are well controlled with medicine.
To prepare for this test:
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form .
You will be seated. You may be given a spray medicine that numbs your nose and throat. For each test, a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) will be passed through your nose or mouth to your lower esophagus and stomach. This may make you feel like you have to gag. To help overcome this feeling, focus on breathing slowly. Your pulse and blood pressure may be watched while the tube is being inserted.
If you have multichannel intraluminal impedance (MII) testing done with either pH or manometry, it will be done in very much the same ways as described above. It will measure how much food and liquid are in the esophagus as well as pH or pressure.
The local anesthetic sprayed into your nose and throat usually tastes slightly bitter. It will make your tongue and throat feel numb and swollen.
When the tube goes through your nose or mouth into your esophagus, you may feel like coughing or gagging. The test may be easier if you try to take slow, deep breaths. You may not like the taste of the lubricant on the tube.
If you have a test that involves adding acid to your stomach, you may have heartburn pain and other symptoms of acid reflux.
If you have the wireless pH monitoring, you may be able to feel the capsule in your esophagus. You will not feel the capsule when it detaches and passes through your intestines and out of your body in your stool.
After the test is over, your nose and throat may feel sore. But this should improve within a day or so.
The chances that you will have problems from an esophagus test are rare.
You can usually get your results within a few days.
Many conditions can affect the results of these tests. Your doctor will discuss your results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.
You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
Other Works Consulted
American Gastroenterological Association (2005). AGA technical review on the clinical use of esophageal manometry. Gastroenterology, 128(1): 209–224.
American Gastroenterological Association (2008). American Gastroenterological Association medical position statement on the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterology, 135(4): 1383–1391.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Hirano I, et al. (2007). ACG practice guidelines: Esophageal reflux testing. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 102(3): 668–685.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of:
August 12, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicinePeter J. Kahrilas MD - Gastroenterology
Current as of: August 12, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas MD - Gastroenterology
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