Small Bowel Manometry

Gastrointestinal specialists at Houston Methodist Lynda K. and David M. Underwood Center for Digestive Disorders offer advanced diagnostics to uncover issues with the small intestine.


Our gastroenterology team at the Underwood Center evaluates the function of your small intestine (or small bowel) with advanced diagnostics and decades of expertise.


The small bowel manometry test analyzes how well the muscles and nerves of the small intestine work in moving liquid or food through the gastrointestinal tract. If an area of your GI tract works improperly, this test can pinpoint where the problem is (muscles or nerves) and aid in determining the appropriate treatment.


The test lasts approximately six hours because contractions (movements) in the small intestine do not occur frequently. Measurements are taken over a long period to “catch” the contractions. The test takes place in two stages:


  1. Records for 3 hours in the fasting state (without food).
  2. Records for another 3 hours after a test meal, which consists of 2 cans of Ensure®.


Our gastroenterologists will discuss the results of the test and recommended next steps in a follow-up appointment.

Patient-Centered Care & Treatment

Specialists at the center offer personalized care and ongoing treatment plans for patients who need experienced small intestine care.


Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Gastroenterology & GI Surgery. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Texas every year since the award began and one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital.

Before, During & After the Small Bowel Manometry Test

How do I prepare for the test?

Your doctor may conduct additional studies prior to your small bowel manometry, such as any of the following:

  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
  • Small bowel series X-ray
  • Nuclear gastric emptying


Based on the results, you may be asked to schedule a consultation with your gastroenterologist prior to scheduling the small bowel manometry.


Stop taking all drugs that can affect gastric motility 48 hours prior to your test. This includes all the following:

  • Anticholinergics (Bentyl®, Levsin®, Donnatal®)
  • Antidepressants
  • Antiemetics (Compazine®, Tigan®, Zofran®)
  • Narcotics
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Motrin®, Advil®)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Prokinetics (Reglan®, Propulsid®, Domperidone®, Erythrocin®, Zelnorm®)
  • Tobacco and alcohol


Do not eat or drink anything after midnight prior to the day of your test. The test requires no pre-medication.

What should I expect during the test?

Your doctor will insert a thin, flexible, plastic tube called a catheter through your nose and into the small intestine. Once inserted, the catheter takes pressure measurements obtained simultaneously from multiple locations in the stomach and small bowel. Your doctor will use X-rays to ensure correct positioning of the catheter.


Some patients experience throat discomfort and nosebleeds. You may drive yourself home after the procedure and resume normal food and medication intake.

How can I find advanced care or a second opinion?

Whether you are looking for a diagnosis or a second opinion, we’re here to help. The center’s compassionate team of gastroenterologists will diagnose your condition and design a comprehensive treatment plan that works for you and your family.

Foregut Diseases Program

A program for diseases of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum with challenging causes that require customized treatments.

Explore our Foregut Diseases Program >