Motility Procedures

UC San Diego Health System provides state-of-the art diagnostic tests to evaluate digestive system disorders relating to motility. Read about these procedures below and also see our information on advanced endoscopy.

Esophageal pH Monitoring (Using Catheter or Wireless Bravo Systems)

Esophageal pH testing measures the acidity level in your esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disease that caused digestive enzymes, acid and food from the stomach to travel backwards through the lower esophageal sphincter and into the esophagus. Esophageal pH monitoring involves having a tiny sensor placed in your esophagus for 24 to 96 hours. The sensor measures and transmits pH data back to a receiver (the size of a cell phone) worn on your waistband or in your pocket. The GI Motility Center downloads and analyzes the data to determine a GERD diagnosis or the effectiveness of a current treatment. 
bullet Patient Instructions: EM Impedance and 24-Hour pH Recording (Taking Medications)
bullet Patient Instructions: EM Impedance and 24-Hour pH Recording (Not Taking Medications)
bullet Patient Instructions: Upper Endoscopy with Bravo pH Recording (Off Medications)
bullet Patient Instructions: Upper Endoscopy with Bravo pH Recording (On Medications)


Esophageal Manometry

High-resolution esophageal manometry, also known as an esophageal motility study, evaluates the coordination of contractions in your esophagus as well as the strength of the lower esophageal sphincter. The test involves having a thin flexible tube passed through your nose and down your esophagus. Esophageal manometry helps determine diagnoses for achalasia, nutcracker esophagus, diffuse esophageal spasm, dysphagia, esophageal pain and reflux disease.
bullet  Patient Instructions: Esophageal Manometry With Impedance 


High-Resolution Anal Manometry

In an anal manometry test, a probe is inserted into the anal canal to measure sensation in the rectum and the pressure exerted by the sphincter muscles. Anal manometry is used to evaluate fecal incontinence and chronic constipation.
bullet Patient Instructions: Anal Manometry

Hydrogen Breath Testing

Hydrogen breath testing is a noninvasive way to evaluate people with irritable bowel syndrome, bacterial overgrowth in the intestine and food intolerances. It involves taking a base reading of levels of hydrogen or methane in the breath, consuming a substance, such as lactose when testing for lactose intolerance, and repeating the breath test to monitor changes against the baseline test.
bullet Patient Instructions: Hydrogen Breath Testing

H. Pylori Testing

Testing for H. Pylori bacteria can be accomplished by a blood antibody test, breath test, stool antigen test or stomach biopsy. UC San Diego Health System uses the less invasive breath test, but it is not available at all clinics.
bullet Patient Instructions: H. Pylori Testing

Antroduodenal Motility Function Using Smart Capsule

In this leading-edge procedure, you ingest a small capsule that has pressure, pH and temperature sensors. The signals from the capsule device are recorded telemetrically by a receiver you carry with you for 24 hours. The test records gastric emptying, small bowel transit, colon transit and whole-gut transit time.

Barium Swallow

A barium swallow study is performed by our partners in radiology. In this procedure, you swallow a barium preparation and its movement through your esophagus is tracked by x-ray. The test is useful for evaluating esophageal conditions such as achalasia, esophageal cancer, GERD, Zenker’s diverticulum and hiatal hernia.


Colorectal Transit Study

Also performed in radiology, a colorectal transit study evaluates how well food moves through the colon. The test involves swallowing a capsule that has 22 markers, which are visible on an X-ray. Their movement is monitored by abdominal x-rays taken on the fifth day after ingestion of the capsule. A colorectal transit study may be used when diagnosing functional constipation, anorectal dysfunction and pelvic floor dysfunction.
bullet Patient Instructions: Colorectal Transit Study