How to Tailor Anorectal Manometry Tests to Pediatric Patients

Published on Oct 3, 2023

In the past few decades, there have been tremendous strides in diagnosing pediatric gastrointestinal disorders. The portable and affordable mcompass® anorectal manometry device allows more healthcare professionals to use anorectal manometry testing to help diagnose their pediatric patients.

However, as any healthcare provider will tell you: children can be difficult patients. They squirm, cry, and scream - which can render test results inconclusive. It’s in the best interest of both the child and the provider to ensure a comfortable, calm testing environment.

No matter your role as a provider - be it a primary care physician, pediatrician, gastroenterologist, nurse practitioner, assistant or other position - these tips will help you tailor your anorectal manometry tests to pediatric patients. This will ensure optimal results for all involved.

Involve Parents and Guardians Before the Test

Parents and guardians are helpful as a comforting presence in the room during the test, but they can also help prepare pediatric patients as well. They will likely have unique insight into specific stressors for their child and what helps relieve them - which may be elements you might not consider.

Involve the parents/guardians as soon as possible in the process. Children in particular are more likely to become distressed by physical sensations like cold hands, beeping noises, or bright lights. Ask the parents/guardians if there are any known stressors that may cause their child to become agitated.

Beyond that, discuss with parents/guardians possible coping mechanisms. Soft music, a favorite toy, or holding an adult’s hand may help a child relax during the procedure. When possible, give children options to choose from. This will help them feel involved in the process.

Observe the parents/guardians along with their child during other appointments (or consult team members who have that insight) to determine the best course of action for involving them during the procedure. Generally speaking, it’s often most helpful to have the parents/guardians present during the test, but that’s not always the case. Nervous adults may exacerbate an already tense situation, or a child may simply be more comfortable without them in the room. By observing typical behavior, you can make that determination.

Remove the Mystery Around Pediatric Anorectal Manometry

One of the main reasons why pediatric patients become upset and uncomfortable during any medical procedure is the uncertainty of a new experience. They may also be expecting pain, and the anticipation of pain can often create more stress that causes greater discomfort.

That’s why it’s important to remove mystery as much as possible. Taking the time to explain the procedure step-by-step and what a child can expect will help address this unknown. These curious minds may ask you a lot of “whys” - and that’s a good thing! The less mystery, the more comfort for pediatric patients. Additionally, with children, it’s important to emphasize the painlessness of the procedure.

Beyond just the steps involved in the procedure, help the child understand why you are conducting these tests, and what the goal is. If you find yourself conducting an anorectal manometry test, the child has already been experiencing discomforting symptoms. Emphasize that this test is to help find a way to relieve that discomfort.

Do this all when you schedule the anorectal manometry test, not the day of the test itself. This gives the child less time to stress about the unknown, and more likely to come into your practice the day of the test more at ease.

Use Petite Catheters Designed Specifically for Children

In the rare cases where anorectal manometry equipment has petite catheters, not all petite catheters are designed with pediatric patients in mind specifically.

mcompass® utilizes a soft-tip catheter with quick and efficient testing to make testing as comfortable for a child as possible. This 5-channel catheter is designed with a short distal tip, shorter functional length, and a smaller diameter rectal balloon.

The petite-5 channel catheter is optimized for pediatric patients in the following ways:

  • Smaller rectal balloon

  • Shorter inserted length

  • 6 diagnostic tests

  • Measure rectal & anal pressures simultaneously

  • 4 biofeedback exercises for pelvic floor training

This child-first design ensures optimal comfort and fit for your pediatric patients. Comfort and safety are crucial for pediatric anorectal manometry, and to ensure the process remains pain-free for your patients.

Relieve Stress During the Procedure

Know that you will likely have to adapt the test to your patient and not the other way around. No matter how much planning and preparation you do in advance, a child may still become distressed during the procedure. Crying and squirming can interfere with the results of the tests, and it’s easy to become frustrated.

This is where getting the parents/guardians involved can help the most. If you know some of the patient’s coping mechanisms, you can implement those during the test. Distractions are also highly effective for children - give your patient a choice to make, or something to do. This could be as simple as asking them (or parent/guardian) to read a picture book or recite the alphabet/basic colors/numbers, etc.

Most pediatric anorectal manometry will be done while the patient is awake, but if sedation is necessary it’s still important to follow the advice above in regards to removing uncertainty and relaxing the patient.

The portable mcompass® device allows procedures to be performed in as little as 15 minutes, enabling you to easily do 10-16 procedures a day. For nervous pediatric patients, a faster test means less time for discomfort.

mcompass®: Anorectal Manometry and Manometric Biofeedback for Pediatrics and Adults

mcompass® is the better, simpler way to do anorectal manometry. Now you can do anorectal manometry in your own practice, on your terms. Whether you’re looking to introduce anorectal manometry for the first time, enhance how you perform the procedure, or want to increase workflow with additional services and offer more options to more patients, the mcompass® Anorectal Manometry (ARM) System gives you real results, real fast.

A new concept in anorectal manometry, mcompass is the leading portable, simple-to-use device that will integrate into the workflow of any practice and make providing new services a reality for a broad range of physicians.

With mcompass you can easily diagnose and optimize treatment planning for Hirschsprung’s disease, fecal incontinence, and chronic constipation. Diagnose lower gastrointestinal disorders in children quickly and accurately.

Explore the mcompass® system


Medspira’s mission is to make clinically-inspired medical devices available to more healthcare professionals and their patients. Our innovative mcompass® system is the leading portable device for anorectal manometry. Manometric biofeedback offerings are available as well with easy-to-install software and disposable attachments.

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