Physiological examinations

While external physical examinations can be an important part of diagnosis – physiological tests are the internal equivalent, used to analyse the performance of muscles, valves and other tissues within the digestive tract.

Evolution gave us a remarkable digestive system. Our oesophagus, for example, is an example of fine biological engineering that can cope with liquids, solids and air entering our bodies. However, time, lifestyle, and medical conditions can still take a toll on performance.

There are a range of physiological gastroenterology tests for every part of the digestive tract that help to establish where issues lie. During your consultation, we’ll discuss which of these could be helpful to you. In the meantime, you’ll find information on some of them below.

Oesophageal physiology

When functioning properly, your food pipe helps move food to your stomach. If you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing, persistent heartburn, spasms, or non-cardiac chest pain, these symptoms could indicate a problem.

A test called oesophageal manometry (or an oesophageal motility study) can assess the current function of the upper and lower valves, along with the moving structure of the oesophagus itself.

You may be asked to swallow water during testing, which is carried out using a fine tube passed through your nose and into your stomach. As this is slowly withdrawn, pressure changes are detected and recorded.

Beyond assessing structural function, esophageal manometry can also help to establish the cause of reflux (the regurgitation of stomach acids, or contents back into the oesophagus). This is often known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or GORD.

The procedure is more patient-friendly than it may sound. A local anaesthetic is used to desensitise your nose, but we don’t have to use sedatives, and you’ll be able to carry on with your day as normal afterwards.

Anorectal physiology

The function of your anal sphincter controls the way you pass solid waste. Issues such as incontinence are surprisingly common, and are often treatable once we have accurately diagnosed the cause.

It could be down to issues with sensation, muscle strength or a tear in the muscle. In many such cases, physiological testing is able to trace the cause. We have a range of tests available, including rectal sensitivity testing, 2D and 3D rectal ultrasound scans, or a bowel motility study. For the last of these, you simply swallow a capsule and then come back to the clinic a few days later. Through advances in medical science we can gain valuable insight and understanding on an important part of our body, and offer effective treatment where poor function is an issue.

Patient support

For the tests mentioned above – and others – you may need to vary when you eat, drink, or take medication. We’ll make sure you have the clear advice you need and discuss your individual needs with you fully before you arrive for testing at our London clinics.

Gastroenterology, by nature, deals with personal needs and we will support you accordingly. Our approach is always to treat the person alongside the condition. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch at any time.

Book a consultation

To make an appointment, or if you have any questions, please contact my secretary, Orsi Baranya:


T:  +44 20 7483 5662
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