In patients with trouble swallowing, an enhanced diagnostic tool developed by Washington University gastroenterologists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital can help physicians identify the problem. Manometry is the measurement of pressure inside the esophagus during its normal swallowing action. Localizing the source of the swallowing problem to specific areas of the esophagus is the key to better understanding of the patient’s disorder and to directing effective treatment.
The older or traditional manometry, still widely used across the country, records from sensors spaced far apart along a catheter inserted through the nose into the esophagus and down into the stomach. The new tool, called high resolution manometry, has 36 circumferential sensors placed only one centimeter apart along the catheter’s entire length. This offers a shorter and more comfortable experience for the patient and more detailed results for diagnosis.
“This advanced computerized technology fills deficiencies in the previous diagnostic tools. By assigning colors to different pressure levels, it provides a topographic map of how the esophagus works,” says Chandra Prakash Gyawali, MD, director of the Gastroenterology Physiology and Motility Laboratory.
Research to assess treatment outcomes and to further improve advanced manometry and impedance techniques are ongoing.