Anorectal Manometry

What is it?
Anorectal manometry is a test performed to evaluate patients with constipation or fecal incontinence.

Why is it done?
This test measures the pressures of the anal sphincter muscles, the sensation in the rectum, and the neural reflexes that are needed for normal bowel movements. Normally, when stool enters the rectum, the anal sphincter muscle tightens to prevent passage of stool at an inconvenient time. If this muscle is weak or does not contract in a timely way, incontinence (leakage of stool) may occur. Normally, when a person pushes or bears down to have a bowel movement, the anal sphincter muscles relax. This will cause the pressures to decrease, allowing evacuation of stool. If the sphincter muscles tighten when pushing, this could contribute to constipation. Anal manometry measures how strong the sphincter muscles are and whether they relax as they should during passing a stool.

What Can I Expect?
The test takes approximately 30 minutes.   The patient then lies on his or her left side. A small, flexible tube, about the size of a thermometer, with a balloon at the end is inserted into the rectum. The catheter is connected to a machine that measures the pressure. During the test, the small balloon attached to the catheter may be inflated in the rectum to assess the normal reflex pathways. You may be asked to squeeze, relax, and push at various times. The anal sphincter muscle pressures are measured during each of these maneuvers.

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