Test / Diagnostic Procedure: Anorectal Manometry

Anorectal manometry is a simple test that assesses the function of the anal sphincter in cases of constipation or bowel incontinence.

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What is anorectal manometry?

Anorectal manometry is a test that evaluates the function of the rectal and anal muscles (the anorectal sphincters). Anorectal manometry measures the strength of these muscles to determine if they’re too loose, too tight or aren’t engaging as they should. The anorectal sphincters are important to maintain continence  to gas and stools.

Why is anorectal manometry performed?

Anorectal manometry is often recommended for those who experience faecal incontinence (loss of bowel control) or constipation.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to these problems including vaginal childbirth and trauma to the anal sphincter after surgery. Anal manometry helps pinpoint the cause of incontinence or constipation so that an appropriate treatment and management plan can be put in place to alleviate your symptoms.

What does anorectal manometry involve?

Anorectal manometry is a straightforward test that is carried out in our outpatient clinic. It takes around 20 minutes and does not require anaesthetic or sedation.

Lying on your left side, you will bend your knees and bring them up to your chest. A small, flexible tube (catheter) with a deflated balloon at the end is then slowly and gently inserted into your rectum.

Once the catheter is in place, some measurements will be recorded on a connected device while you are at rest. You will be then asked to squeeze (contract) your sphincter muscles and again any variation in pressure recorded by the catheter will be passed on the connected device. Finally, the empty balloon that stands at the tip of the catheter, is gradually inflated. This stimulates the nerves in the rectum and anal sphincter causing them to contract. Some records will be analysed again.

Once all the measurements have been taken the balloon will be deflated and removed along with the catheter.

Preparing for anorectal manometry

There is no need for bowel preparation to have this test done and you do not have to interrupt your medications or take any action prior to the test.

Recovering from anorectal manometry

Anorectal manometry is a very safe, low-risk diagnostic test and rarely causes any pain, so there is no recovery time.

The test does not require anaesthetic or sedation, so it is safe for you to drive yourself home and go about your normal activities straight after the test.

What happens next?

Depending on the results of the anorectal manometry, your consultant may suggest any of the following to help reduce your symptoms and treat their cause:

  • Dietary changes
  • Medications
  • Muscle strengthening exercises
  • Surgical repair

A follow up with the referrer consultant will be suggested to discuss the results of this investigation.

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Jul 2024


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Anorectal Manometry Specialists

We have brought together a group of leading colorectal and general surgeons and gastroenterologists to create our Digestive Health team. With over 300 years of combined experience, these expert clinicians are the best in their field and are all focused on delivering the very best patient care.