Organizing and Developing a GI Motility Lab in Community Practice: Challenges and Rewards

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2022 Jun;24(6):73-87. doi: 10.1007/s11894-022-00838-5.


Jason R Baker 1 2Bryan F Curtin 3Baharak Moshiree 1Satish S C Rao 4


Author information

1Atrium Health, Charlotte, NC, USA.

2Neurogastroenterology and Motility Laboratory, 1025 Morehead Medical Drive, Suite 300, Charlotte, NC, 28209, USA.

3Division of Neurogastroenterology, The Institute for Digestive and Liver Disease, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD, USA.

4Division of Neurogastroenterology/Motility, Augusta University Medical Center, Augusta, GA, USA. SRAO@augusta.edu.


Purpose of review: Neurogastroenterology and motility is a rapidly evolving subspecialty that encompasses over 33% of gastroenterological disorders, and up to 50% of referrals to gastroenterology practice. It includes common problems such as dysphagia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, gastroparesis, functional dyspepsia, gas/bloating, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, food intolerance and fecal incontinence Standard diagnostic tests such as endoscopy or imaging are normal in these conditions. To define the underlying mechanism(s)/etiology of these disorders, diagnostic motility tests are often required. These are best performed by well-trained personnel in a dedicated motility laboratory. Our purpose is to provide an up-to-date overview on how to organize and develop a motility laboratory based on our collective experiences in setting up such facilities in academia and community practice.

Recent findings: A lack of knowledge, training and facilities for providing diagnostic motility tests has led to suboptimal patient care. A motility laboratory is the hub for diagnostic and therapeutic motility procedures. Common procedures include esophageal function tests such as esophageal manometry and pH monitoring, anorectal function tests suchlike anorectal manometry, neurophysiology and balloon expulsion, dysbiosis and food intolerance tests such as hydrogen/methane breath tests, and gastrointestinal transit assessment. These tests provide an accurate diagnosis and guide clinical management including use of medications, biofeedback therapy, neuromodulation, behavioral therapies, evidence-based dietary interventions and endoscopic or surgical procedures. Further, there have been recent developments in billing and coding of motility procedures and training requirements that are not well known. This review provides a stepwise approach on how to set-up a motility laboratory in the community or academic practice and includes the rationale, infrastructure, staffing needs, commonly performed motility tests and their clinical utility, billing and coding strategies, training needs and economic considerations for setting up this service.


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