Routine motility tests such as esophageal manometry, gastric emptying, and anorectal manometry have become readily available. The wireless motility capsule is being increasingly utilized to assess whole gut transit as well as regional transit of the stomach, small bowel, and large bowel. However, the utility of these tests in clinical practice and their appropriate indications are incompletely understood.
This topic will review the indications for and utility of esophageal manometry, gastric emptying studies, and anorectal manometry. Specialized motility tests such as antroduodenal manometry, electrogastrography, and colonic manometry are under development and will not be discussed. Specific motility disorders are discussed elsewhere. (See "Distal esophageal spasm, nutcracker esophagus, and hypertensive lower esophageal sphincter" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of achalasia" and "Gastroparesis: Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis" and "Fecal incontinence in adults: Etiology and evaluation" and "Etiology and evaluation of chronic constipation in adults".)
The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) guideline for the clinical use of esophageal manometry , as well as other AGA guidelines, can be accessed through the AGA web site at www.gastro.org/practice/medical-position-statements.
Esophageal manometry is most useful in evaluating patients with dysphagia, noncardiac chest pain, and prior to antireflux surgery. It may also be helpful for excluding generalized gastrointestinal (GI) tract disease such as scleroderma or chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. (See "Overview of dysphagia in adults" and "Chest pain of esophageal origin" and "Surgical management of gastroesophageal reflux in adults" and "Overview of the clinical manifestations of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) in adults", section on 'Gastrointestinal involvement' and "Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction".)
Technical aspects — The two manometric methods in use today are the low compliance water-perfused catheter system  and the solid-state pressure system . Placement of the transducers, configuration, and recording must be done accurately to assure the reliability of the data. Both systems are acceptable methods of performing routine esophageal manometry, although each has its advantages. The introduction of high resolution manometry (HRM) may provide the potential for improvement in the diagnosis of various motility disorders . The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) technical review for the clinical use of esophageal manometry , as well as other AGA guidelines, can be accessed through the AGA web site at www.gastro.org/practice/medical-position-statements. (See "High resolution manometry".)