Anorectal Manometry

Thank you for choosing Tufts Medical Center's GI Motility Service. We have provided the below instructions to ensure that your time in our care is as pleasant and safe as possible. Please read all instructions carefully before your anorectal manometry procedure as these directions are critical to your health and safety.

The procedure and what to expect

Your doctor has recommended Anorectal Manometry (ARM) for evaluation of your problem.  Anorectal manometry is performed by specially trained nursing staff and a physician.  Because of the sensitive nature of your problem, every effort will be made to respect and guard your privacy.  The following information will help you to better understand the procedure.

Anorectal manometry assesses 1) the strength of the anal muscles, 2) the rectal sensation, 3) the ability to have a bowel movement, 4) the ability to squeeze and hold a volume of fluid, and 5) the nerve supply to the anal muscle. 

For the purposes of this test, we will place a catheter about the size of a pencil approximately six inches into the rectum.  

Planning for your appointment

The Tufts Medical Center GI Motility Unit is located on the third floor in the Proger building. To find information on directions, parking and our campus map, visit the hospital locations and directions page >

When preparing to come to the Medical Center for your appointment, please be sure to first:

  • Be sure you have an insurance referral, if required by your insurance company.
  • Be prepared to pay any co-payment on the day of your procedure.
  • Please bring the following items with you:
    • Your completed medical questionnaire and list of medication(s).
    • Your hospital card.

If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call us immediately at 617-636-5883. If you have questions about the procedure, please call 617-636-0142 and ask for a nurse.

Preparing for the procedure

You may not have an Anorectal Manometry on the same day after you have had a Defecography.

Bowel prep: The test is ideally performed with an empty rectum. 

Day BEFORE the study

Purchase 2 Fleet enemas and administer one enema the night before the exam. You will administer the second enema early on the morning of the exam. 

Day OF the study

  • Administer the second enema early on day of exam, at least 2 hrs prior to your appointment time
  • Please empty your bladder prior to the exam
  • Please complete the enclosed questionnaire forms. Bring all up-to-date insurance information, identification, and current list of medications
  • Bring the name, address, phone, and fax number of all the doctors you wish to receive a copy of the report
  • We recommend you contact your insurance company prior to your procedure in order to obtain coverage if needed

Medication instructions

  • You may NOT take any muscle relaxers or anticholinergics, for example: oxybutin, valium
  • You may take stool softeners, laxatives or enemas as you normally do before your test
  • You may take necessary prescription medications the day of your exam.  These would generally include medications for treatment of heart, blood pressure or seizure disorders
  • If you have any question about medications you are currently taking, please contact your prescribing doctor

Diet instructions:  You may eat or drink up to the time of the test unless instructed not to by your doctor.

Day of the procedure

Unless otherwise instructed, please report to the Tufts Medical Center Gastroenterology Motility Unit (Proger building, 3rd floor) on the day of the procedure, where the nurses will prepare you for the procedure.  Friends or relatives may wait in the clinic waiting room until the exam is complete.

Please note that we cannot be responsible for valuables such as jewelry and money brought to the unit.  You are advised to leave such articles at home.

Upon arrival to the Motility Unit, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and shorts.  A nurse will review the procedure with you, take a brief health history and answer any questions you may have.  The test takes approximately one hour.

Risks:  You may experience mild discomfort and slight bleeding for 2-3 days.  If bleeding persists, please notify the doctor.

After the procedure

The results of the procedure and recommendations for follow-up will be discussed with you during a scheduled follow-up clinic appointment.

Again, you may experience mild discomfort and slight bleeding for 2-3 days.  If bleeding persists, please notify the doctor.