Esophageal pH monitoring tests are performed to determine if a patient is experiencing abnormal acid reflux – gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – and to determine the appropriate treatment. The test measures the amount of acid backing up from the stomach into the esophagus, the tube through which food passes, and can also measure the effectiveness of medications.
One of two pH studies can be performed:
- Bravo pH (capsule) study – A small capsule equipped with a transmitter, about the size of pencil eraser, is attached to the lining of the esophagus using a flexible tube (endoscope). The capsule monitors acid (pH) levels and activity in the esophagus and sends the information to a recorder the patient wears. This study lasts 48 to 96 hours. After several days, the capsule (which is disposable) will detach from the esophagus and pass through the digestive tract and stool. The patient will return the recording device to the procedure office/hospital.
- Impedance pH study – A very thin tube equipped with recording electrodes is threaded into the patient’s esophagus through the nose (medicine is applied into the nose to minimize discomfort). The exterior part of the tube is then taped to the patient’s cheek, hooked over the ear, and attached to a data recorder the patient wears around the waist. The tube and probe remain in the patient for 24 hours, monitoring acid levels and activity, and transmitting the data to the recorder. The patient may feel the probe in the throat for the duration of the study, but will be able to breath, talk, and eat without difficulty. The next day, the patient can return to the doctor’s office to have it removed.
Sedation is necessary to place the probe, so the patient will be required to have a ride home. In both tests, the patient will be advised to keep a journal of all foods eaten, when they were eaten, and their effect during the testing period. The doctor also will want a complete list of medications the patient is taking.
Conditions treated or diagnosed by this procedure: