Esophageal pH monitoring


What is Esophageal pH Monitoring?

Esophageal pH monitoring is a specialized test used to measure the amount of acid present in the esophagus. It is used to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and aid in evaluating its severity. This test can be used to help doctors decide if changes in lifestyle or medication need to be made to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms resulting from reflux.

Preparation for Esophageal pH Monitoring

For accurate results, doctors will advise patients not to eat or drink anything containing acids (such as orange juice, tomatoes, and coffee) for eight hours prior to beginning the esophageal pH monitoring test. Patients should also avoid smoking and lying down for two hours leading up to the test, as these can both increase acid production.

Procedure of Esophageal pH Monitoring

The esophageal pH monitoring procedure typically lasts between 20 and 24 hours. During this time, the patient wears a special belt that contains a thin tube (catheter). The catheter is inserted into the patient’s nose and then passed down their throat into their esophagus. A small PH sensor at the end of the catheter records pH changes throughout the intestine, and a recorder worn by the patient at their waist records this data.

Types of Esophageal pH Monitoring

  • 24 Hour Esophageal pH Monitoring: This is the most commonly used type of test for diagnosing GERD. This test is used to measure both acid and non-acid reflux.
  • Wireless Esophageal pH Monitoring: This type of testing is used to measure acid reflux and not non-acid reflux. This differs from the 24 hour Acid Reflux test in that the catheter is connected to a receiver worn externally, which tracks the data.

Risks of Esophageal pH Monitoring

Esophageal pH monitoring is generally considered safe, but there is a risk of complications. These include nosebleeds, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, and infection. Rarely, serious complications can occur such as esophageal bleeding or perforation.

Why is Esophageal pH Monitoring Performed?

Esophageal pH monitoring is used to assess the severity of GERD and identify the specific causes of the symptoms. This procedure is also used to monitor the effectiveness of treatments. It helps doctors know if lifestyle changes or medications are having the desired effect on reducing symptoms.

When is Esophageal pH Monitoring Performed?

Esophageal pH monitoring is typically recommended when other diagnostic tests, such as charts, upper GI endoscopy, and X-rays have been unsuccessful in determining the cause of a person’s GERD symptoms. It is also used to monitor the effectiveness of treatments.