GI Motility Testing

If you have a GI motility disorder such as acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome, you’ve likely spent months or years trying to understand what’s causing your symptoms. Maybe you’ve even seen multiple doctors without getting the answers or treatments you need. But at Henry Ford Health, you’ll find the advanced GI motility tests and compassionate care you’ve been searching for.

GI motility disorder diagnosis: Why choose Henry Ford?

Our Center for Motility Disorders is known throughout Michigan and the Midwest for its diagnostic expertise. We offer:

  • State-of-the-art motility lab: Our lab features the latest esophageal reflux monitoring and high-resolution esophageal and anorectal manometry. We’re also one of only a few providers in Michigan to offer EndoFLIP®, the newest minimally invasive test for esophageal motility disorders.
  • Quick results: Gastroenterologists, GI motility nurses, pathologists and radiologists work together to streamline the diagnostic process, so we can build a treatment plan sooner.
  • Comfort and convenience: We select the right tests for your needs, avoid repeat testing whenever possible, and try to schedule your tests in as few visits as possible. We also offer a range of noninvasive and minimally invasive diagnostic procedures to reduce stress and discomfort.

What is GI motility testing?

Motility testing helps your gastroenterologist find out if you have a problem with the nerves and muscles in your digestive tract. If these nerves and muscles don’t work well, food doesn’t digest properly.

Who needs GI motility testing?

Your gastroenterologist may suggest motility testing if you have unexplained symptoms of:

  • Bloating, belching or gas
  • Bowel accidents
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Chronic constipation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Treatment-resistant heartburn

What can I expect from GI motility testing?

The diagnostic process starts with a thorough physical exam. We also review your symptoms, medical history, lifestyle and diet. Routine blood and urine tests help us detect allergies, viral infections, diabetes or other problems that could be causing your symptoms.

Next, you may need an upper GI endoscopy or colonoscopy. We use an endoscope (thin, flexible tube with a light and video camera) to examine your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon) and rectum. These tests help us spot inflammation, intestinal blockages, tumors and other structural problems in your digestive tract.

We offer a range of advanced tests to assess how food moves through your digestive tract and how well your GI nerves and muscles work.

Breath tests

We measure the level of certain substances in your breath after you eat. Noninvasive breath tests can tell us:

  • How quickly food moves from your stomach to your small intestine
  • If you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or intestinal methanogen overgrowth (IMO)
  • If your digestive tract has difficulty breaking down sugars, such as lactose


EndoFLIP (endoluminal functional lumen imaging probe) is the latest diagnostic test to measure esophageal function. A catheter equipped with a special balloon measures the pressure, size and stiffness of your esophagus.

EndoFLIP provides more information than manometry alone, which can help us make a more accurate diagnosis. The motility experts at Henry Ford have specialized expertise in performing this advanced test.

Esophageal reflux monitoring: Bravo pH and 24-hour impedance testing

We may do a Bravo pH test to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). We use an endoscope to place a small capsule in your esophagus. The wireless capsule measures and records acid levels in your esophagus over 48 to 96 hours.

Another test for GERD, chronic cough or phlegm in your throat is 24-hour pH impedance testing. We guide a catheter (thin, flexible tube) through your nose and down your esophagus. Wires connect the catheter to an external recording device. The test measures acid reflux and the regurgitation of nonacidic stomach contents and mucus in your esophagus.

Gastric emptying study

A gastric emptying test (also called gastric emptying scintigraphy) measures how long it takes food to move from your stomach to your small intestine. It’s the most definitive diagnostic test for gastroparesis. You eat a small meal that contains a safe amount of a radioactive tracer. We take a series of scans over several hours to track how the tracer moves through your digestive tract.

High-resolution esophageal and anorectal manometry

Manometry (or motility study) is a test that measures how well muscles in your digestive tract work. Manometry uses catheters equipped with pressure sensors. The sensors assess the strength of muscle contractions.

We use esophageal manometry to evaluate swallowing problems. Anorectal manometry helps us diagnose constipation, fecal incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Take the next step

To connect with a GI motility disorder specialist, call (800) 436-7936 or request an appointment.


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