Radial asymmetry of the upper oesophageal sphincter high-pressure zone (UESHPZ) is an accepted notion based on manometric studies. Our aim was to evaluate the effect of the catheter diameter and configuration on the resting pressure profile of the UES. We studied 14 young (30 ± 2 years) and 14 healthy elderly volunteers (77 ± 2 years) using the station pull-through technique. We used a specially designed water perfused manometric assembly that incorporated a proximal round cross-section (4.8 mm) and a distal flat cross-section (4.8 × 1.2 mm). Anterior and posterior manometric sites on the round catheter measured significantly higher pressure values than did the sites oriented laterally at the same level (P < 0.001) in both young and elderly. In contrast, the flat-shaped catheter measured statistically indistinguishable pressures from all four orientations in both age groups. In both young and elderly the anterio-posterior, but not lateral pressures by the round catheter were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than those of the flat catheter. An exaggerated anteriorly and posteriorly oriented pressure may be recorded compared with lateral pressures depending on the diameter and non-conforming shape of the recording catheter with respect to the UES producing the appearance of radial asymmetry in the UESHPZ.