Doctor taking blood pressure of patient.

Anorectal Motility Study

Also known as: Manometry

If you’ve suffered from changes in bowel habits, such as a loss of control or constipation, your doctor will likely recommend an anorectal motility study. The procedure can help doctors efficiently identify how your rectal muscles are working and provide insights toward effective treatment for your bowel conditions.

Anorectal manometry, or an anorectal motility study, is a diagnostic exam used to evaluate the coordination and strength of a patient’s pelvic floor and sphincter muscles.

An anorectal motility study is used mainly to diagnose and treat conditions related to chronic constipation or fecal incontinence (bowel leakage).

An anorectal motility study requires entry into the rectum, meaning your doctor will ask that you prepare your bowels before the procedure. This preparation usually comes in the form of an enema at least two hours before your procedure but may also include a change in diet or medication hours or possibly days prior.

Similar to a colonoscopy, your doctor will ask that you lie on your left side in the fetal position (bringing your knees up to your chest) for your exam. Your team of caregivers will provide medication and sedatives should they be required.

During the procedure, your doctor inserts a thin catheter with an attached balloon through your rectum. The catheter is connected to a machine that measures the pressure of your muscle contractions. You may feel slight discomfort as the catheter is inserted.

You will be asked to perform certain exercises to help analyze the functionality of your bowel reflex pathways. These exercises include squeezing, pushing, tightening and relaxing the sphincter muscles.

Once the exercises are complete, your doctor carefully removes the catheter and a gastroenterologist interprets your results.

The procedure takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Depending on the type of sedatives and anesthesia provided, you will likely be discharged within an hour and can continue with normal activities.

An anorectal manometry study is generally a safe diagnostic procedure, though it does carry certain risks. These risks include nausea, bloating, perforation of the rectum, rectal irritation and bleeding.