Small Bowel Motility Study

Your doctor has requested that you have a small bowel motility (moe-TILL-it-ee) study. This procedure measures contractions (squeezing action) of your stomach and small intestines when you fast (do not eat or drink) and when you eat. The procedure will take about seven hours.

Preparation for the Procedure

Do not take any medication that affects the motility, or action, of your intestines for five days before the procedure. Such medications include Propulsid®, Urecholine®, Reglan®, Lomotil®, Motilium®, antidepressants, and any pain medications.


You should drink only clear liquids such asginger ale, apple juice, or water for dinner the night before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything from after dinner until the time of your procedure the next day. If you have slow bowel movements or slow emptyingfrom your stomach, your doctor may ask you to drink only clear liquids for three to four days before the procedure.

Morning of the Procedure

Do not eat or drink anything the morning of the procedure. You may brush your teeth and use mouthwash, but do not swallow any liquid.


You will be asked to sign a consent form before the procedure. The form states that you have spoken with your doctor and understand the risks and benefits of the procedure, and that you agree to have the procedure. You then will be asked to put on a hospital gown over your street clothes.

During the Procedure

The back of your throat will be numbed with a spray. You will be placed on your back, and your doctor will insert a flexible, hollow plastic tube through your mouth and down your throat, into your stomach. The tube is thinner than a drinking straw, so you will be able to breathe and swallow while the tube is in place.


The doctor will move the flexible tube into your small intestine until it is positioned correctly.
X-rays will be taken to check the position of the tube. Then a small guide wire will be inserted through the tube until the end of the wire reaches the tip of the tube in your small intestine. The flexible tube will be removed, and the wire will remain in place. Next, a catheter (a thin tube) will be placed over the wire and moved into position in your small intestine. Finally, the guide wire will be removed, and only the catheter will remain in place.

You then will be taken to another procedure room where your gastrointestinal (GAS-trohin-TESS-tin-ahl) activity — the activity in your stomach and intestines — will be monitored for at least three hours. After three hours, you will be given small amounts of water to drink and chicken, potatoes, and tapioca pudding to eat as part of the study. Remember, the catheter in your throat will not interfere with your ability to eat or drink. The contractions of your stomach and intestines will be monitored for two more hours after you have finished eating. After the monitoring is completed, the catheter will be removed.

After the Procedure

You will be able to leave the hospital immediately after the procedure is complete. You may resume your regular diet and activities.


Possible Side Effects

You may experience a slight sore throat following the procedure, but any soreness should be gone by the following day.


If You Have Questions

If you have any questions about your small bowel motility procedure, talk with your doctor and nurse. They can answer any questions you and your family may have. Your doctor will discuss the results of the study with you when they are available.


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