New motility testing now available for pediatric GI patients


When Maheen Hassan began working at UC Davis Children’s Hospital last October, she brought with her new expertise to the region: motility testing for pediatric gastroenterology (GI) patients.

Maheen Hassan
Maheen Hassan

GI motility involves the muscles, nerves and hormones of the gut working together to propel food and then stool out of the body. If any of these components fail to work properly, patients can end up with motility problems in their gut.

“The motility testing we offer can help diagnose kids with severe, but oftentimes nonspecific symptoms, like trouble swallowing, vomiting, or constipation. It can also help decide if a condition requires surgery or if it can be medically managed,” Hassan said.

Two motility testing services are available at UC Davis Health:

Esophageal manometry: A test that studies how the muscles of the esophagus contract and relax to move food and drink into the stomach. This helps diagnose those with swallowing difficulties with diagnoses such as achalasia, a condition in which your lower esophageal sphincter muscle doesn’t relax to allow food to enter your stomach.

Anorectal manometry: A test that measures nerve reflexes and muscle tone to assist children with constipation. This can help diagnose pelvic floor dyscoordination, sensory impairment, or Hirschsprung’s disease, a birth defect in which the last part of the digestive track lacks nerves and thus the ability to move feces.

Hassan also has a dual appointment at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California, offering additional motility testing services of the stomach, small bowel and large bowel, as well as test the distensibility of certain muscles in the gut.

Hassan treats newborns to age 18 and accepts referrals throughout Northern California. Her expertise is not available in other Northern California hospitals.

“Since there aren’t other physicians in Northern California providing GI motility testing, I’ve been receiving a lot of referrals from both within and outside of the Sacramento area. I’m happy to bring this new service line to help children and families here in Sacramento and beyond,” Hassan said.