Anal Manometry

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There are two small muscles in the anus (opening from the rectum) which help to control bowel movements. The muscles are known as internal and external sphincters (SFINK ters). They are normally contracted (closed) to prevent leakage of stool. When a person has a bowel movement, these muscles must relax (open) at the same time.

The anal (AY nul) manometry (mah NOM eh tree) test is to see how well these muscles in the anus and the pelvic floor are working.

How to Prepare for the Test

  • Give a glycerin suppository the night before the test and the morning of the test.
  • Give a Dulcolax® suppository the night before the test and the morning of the test.
  • Other: ______________.

Bring a familiar toy, a “security blanket” or other objects from home to help comfort your child during the test.

How the Test Is Done

  • The test will be done in the GI procedure room.diagram of muscles of rectum and anus
  • Parents are welcome to stay with their children.
  • Your child will be asked to remove his underpants and will be given a gown to wear. He will then be asked to lie on a padded table.
  • If your child is too young to hold still and cooperate with the test, medicine may be given to help him relax.
  • A lubricating gel will be put on your child’s anus. It will feel wet and cold.
  • A rectal exam will be done to make sure the rectum is empty.
  • This test feels “strange” but is not painful.
  • A narrow and flexible tube (catheter) with a small deflated balloon on the end will be placed into your child’s rectum. The balloon is slowly inflated to different sizes.
  • If your child is old enough, we will ask him to squeeze the anus around the balloon and tell us when the balloon is felt.
  • The tube is attached to a computer. The computer records how well the muscles around the anus are working.

Risks and Complications

  • Irritation (soreness) around the anus and in the rectum.
  • A small amount of rectal bleeding.
  • There is a chance the test will not be done if there is too much stool in the rectum.
  • This test requires a certain amount of cooperation from the child. If it is too hard for your child to stay still and cooperate, we may have to stop the test.
  • Due to unexpected outcomes, the test may need to be repeated.


Your child’s doctor will receive a report of the test results within 1 week. If you have any questions, be sure to ask the doctor or nurse.

Anal Manometry (PDF)

H-III-10 12/94 Revised 3/14 Copyright 1994, Nationwide Children’s Hospital