Motility Testing :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Motility Testing

In the Motility Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, we diagnose complex motility disorders using advanced expertise and technology. Motility testing techniques study how the intestine moves, contracts and relaxes. It can also measure intestinal perception, including the threshold for discomfort and pain from the intestine.

Motility testing includes:

Anorectal manometry (anal manometry)

In infants and children with stooling problems, anorectal manometry is used to test for the normal relaxation of the muscles which help to control bowel movements. These muscles are known as sphincters. Normally, these muscles are closed to keep stool in the rectum and open when it is time to have a bowel movement. Anorectal manometry can also test for how the child senses distention or stretching of the rectum. A tube, with a balloon on its end, is inserted into the rectum. The balloon is slowly inflated to simulate stool in the rectum. As the balloon is inflated the muscles should open. The tube is connected to a computer which will measure how well this happens.

Antroduodenal manometry

The antrum is the lower part of the stomach and the duodenum is the first part of the small intestine, which is connected to the stomach. Antroduodenal manometry is used to study how the stomach and the first part of the small intestine are working. It can be used to measure both the strength and coordination of muscle contractions of the stomach and small intestine. To do this test, a small flexible tube (catheter) is passed through the nose, down the esophagus, through the stomach, and into the small intestine. The tube is passed after the child is sedated, but the manometry test itself is done after the child wakes up, often the next day. If the child has a gastrostomy tube, the catheter will be passed through the gastrostomy instead of through the nose.

Esophageal manometry

Esophageal manometry is used to study how the esophagus (swallowing tube) is working. The child is awake for this test. A small tube (catheter) is passed through the nose and into the esophagus. The child is then asked to swallow both with and without sips of water to drink. The catheter is attached to a computer that records the strength and coordination of muscle contractions in the esophagus that occur with these swallows. The catheter needs to be moved during the study to test different areas of the esophagus.

Colonic manometry

Colonic manometry is used to study how the colon is working. A manometry catheter is placed in the colon (large intestine). The catheter is a thin, flexible tube that is used to measure how the muscles and nerves of the colon are working. The catheter is either placed by colonoscopy or in interventional radiology. The catheter is attached to a computer that records the strength and coordination of muscle contractions in the colon.

Get more information on GI diagnostic tests and treatments.

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