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Anal Rectal Manometry

Under normal conditions, the stool enters the rectum and anal sphincter muscles control the passage of the stool during a bowel movement. If the muscles are weak or fail to contract this can lead to stool leakage.

When you bear down to have a bowel movement the anal sphincter relaxes allowing the evacuation of the stool. If the sphincter tightens instead, it can cause constipation.

Anal rectal manometry is a noninvasive, safe, and low risk, diagnostic test used to evaluate the function of the anal sphincter muscles and the rectum. The anal sphincter muscles and the rectum are responsible for controlling bowel movements. The anal canal is the last part of the large intestine after the rectum.

This diagnostic test measures pressures and sensations in the rectum and nerve reflexes that are needed for normal bowel movements. Many things can cause the anal sphincter muscles to weaken, including aging, childbirth, and surgery.

Anorectal manometry can help to:

  • diagnose constipation by assessing the function of the anal sphincter muscles and the anal canal.
  • diagnose fecal incontinence (stool leakage).
  • diagnose anal fissures (tears in the lining of the anus), and other problems with the anal sphincter muscles.
  • to assess the pelvic floor muscles, and the results of surgery to repair these conditions.

The test is performed by inserting a small, flexible tube into the anal canal and then gradually inflating the balloon at the end of the tube. This allows the doctor to measure the pressures in the anal sphincter muscles and assess how well they are working. You will be asked to squeeze to prevent anything from coming out, to bear down as if straining to make a bowel movement and relax at intervals. An add on test may include an evaluation of the nerves that supply the anus.

The test usually takes about 30 minutes. You will receive complete instructions on how to prepare for this test and what to expect.

The test is generally well tolerated, although some people may experience discomfort from the tube being inserted into the anus.

Your Gastroenterology Associates of Brooklyn doctor will explain why they are ordering this test and provide the results to you with an explanation of the results.

Anal Rectal Manometry Patient Guide