Anorectal Manometry

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What is anorectal manometry?

Some people have trouble passing stools or can experience ongoing constipation or fecal incontinence. In these cases, it’s important to check how the rectal and anal sphincters (valves) are working. Our doctors use a test called anorectal manometry to measure the strength and coordination of the muscles that control the rectum and anus. The results, in conjunction with other information such as the bowel pattern, or X-ray appearance of the rectum, may permit us to guide successful treatment.

What is involved in this test?

The manometry exam takes between 30 and 60 minutes. We perform it in the office. ARM can cause slight discomfort, but is not usually painful, and you will not need to be sedated. The test confers no significant risk.

With you lying on your side, we insert a thin, flexible tube slowly into the rectum and a machine records the muscle contractions and relaxations in your sphincters when you squeeze or bear down as if to initiate a bowel movement. We also inflate and deflate a balloon at the end of the catheter to test the sensation of your rectum (i.e. when you feel the need to have a bowel movement). When the measurements are done, the tube will be withdrawn and your doctor will review the measurements.

Preparing for the Procedure

Your doctor will give you specific instructions about how to prepare for this test. You will be asked to not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the test. You will also need to give yourself a Fleet enema two to three hours before your appointment, to ensure your rectum is empty before the exam.

This test doesn’t interfere with medications you may be taking. Make sure your doctor knows if you have any conditions or diseases that might affect the decision to conduct the test.

What can I expect after the manometry test?

Once we interpret and finalize the results, your doctor will discuss them with you. The course of treatment will depend on the extent of the problem and its cause. Typical treatment options include:

    • Changes in your diet
    • Prescription medications
    • Physical therapy to help strengthen and coordinate your pelvic muscles.

In some cases, surgical intervention may be needed.

By: New York Gastroenteroloy

Reviewed by: Jay Desai, MD

Published: Dec 10th, 2020

Last Reviewed: Mar 1st, 2022

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