While it's important to look at the anatomy of the esophagus and stomach using endoscopy, and to confirm the accuracy of the diagnosis using acid monitoring, it is also important to make sure the esophagus is functioning normally. The esophagus is a muscular tube that actively transports food and fluid from the back of the throat down to the stomach. To be certain it is functioning normally a test called an esophageal motility study is required. A specialized catheter, equipped with multiple pressure sensitive monitors is inserted through the patient's nose and into the stomach. As the patient swallows a small amount of liquid, the pressure created within the esophagus is recorded and displayed visually on a computer monitor.
Accurately assessing the functional capability of the esophagus is critical when determining the best treatment option for patients with GERD. Normal muscular strength and coordinated contractions of the esophagus are essential to the process of swallowing and this test is the only way to obtain a clear picture of exactly what is happening. It typically only takes about 30 minutes to perform with the latest state-of-the-art, high definition system. Most patients tolerate this test quite well, especially when they understand the importance of information it provides.