Anorectal Manometry

At Boston Children’s GI Motility Center, we provide the most advanced, high-resolution and high definition manometry testing possible. This provides our doctors with detailed information about your child’s condition. 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 Test?

You will receive instructions in the mail regarding the bowel preparation, or a nurse from Boston Children's will call to tell you what you need to do to get your child ready for the test. 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 GI motility testing.

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 GI motility testing for more information.

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.

If you have any questions about an upcoming test, procedure or any other aspect of your child's treatment, please reach out to any member of your care team—he or she will be able to explain what to expect during your visit and share tips on how to make it as easy as possible.

Make an Appointment

For an appointment, more information or to obtain a second opinion for your child, please contact the Motility and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Center at 617-355-6055 or request an appointment online.