Motility and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Center Anorectal Manometry

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Anorectal manometry is often done to help find the cause of your child's symptoms, such as constipation, stool accidents or other bowel problems. It may also be done before or after surgery to check how your child's rectal muscles and nerves are working.

During an anorectal manometry a doctor places a small, soft, flexible tube into the rectum. A tiny balloon is attached to the end of the tube. This balloon is filled with small amounts of air to measure how your child's muscles and nerves work inside the rectum.

What happens before an anorectal manometry?

You will receive instructions in the mail regarding the bowel preparation, or a nurse from the Gastroenterology Program at Boston Children's will call to tell you what you need to do to get your child ready for anorectal manometry. If your child has a latex allergy, please tell the nurse at this time. A latex-free balloon will then be used for your child.

This test is not painful, but some children may feel anxious about it. For general information about motility tests and/or procedures, see the general information about motility tests and/or procedures page.

What happens during an anorectal manometry?

  • Your child will be brought into the room where the test is done. The test will take about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • If needed, the doctor will give your child medicine to help him or her sleep.
  • Your child will lie on his or her left side for the procedure. The doctor places a small, soft, flexible tube into the rectum. This tube is attached to a computer. The computer measures how well the rectal muscles work.
  • The doctor or nurse slowly inflates and deflates a tiny balloon on the end of the tube. At the same time, the computer records the activity of the nerves and muscles in the rectum. There is no discomfort associated with this. The doctor may ask your child to say when he or she feels the balloon as it inflates. The doctor may also ask your child to squeeze down on the tube or try to push the tube out of the rectum. Again, this is not uncomfortable.
  • The doctor will remove the tube when the test is finished.

What happens after an anorectal manometry?

If your child did not receive sedation (medicine to cause sleepiness) for the test, he or she may go home when the test is over. The nurse will review all instructions with you before you leave. If your child received sedation before the test, please visit the general information about motility tests and/or procedures page for more information.

How will I hear about of the tests' results?

The doctor who performed the exam will talk to you about the test results before you go home that day. Your primary gastroenterology doctor will give you follow-up care instructions.

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