Esophageal pH Testing
allows the physician to obtain a numerical
score corresponding to the amount of acid
that refluxes into your esophagus from the
stomach. The procedure is used to more
precisely quantitate the severity of acid
reflux or to exclude it from consideration.
Additionally, the tests helps to determine
if there is a correlation between acid
regurgitation and symptoms such as chest
pain, cough, asthma, hoarseness or throat
The procedure is generally performed by a specially trained nurse. Specialists in Gastroenterology perform this test. For the procedure, you will relax in a sitting position on the examining table. No sedation is generally needed as the test is not painful and any mild discomfort is usually short lived. The nurse will gently pass a very thin flexible tube through the nose and into the esophagus. At several locations on the tube are sensors that monitor pH—the measure of acidity. The tube is taped behind your ear and then brought down to a recording device at your waist. Over the next 24 hours a continuous measurement of acidity is then recorded while you eat, run errands and even sleep. If you experience a symptom such as heartburn or cough, you can press a button on the recorder to document the time of the symptom so that the acid measurement can be correlated to it. You return to the outpatient department at the hospital the next morning where the tube is gently removed and the recording device attached to a special computer that will generate a report of your test.
There are no serious risks associated with esophageal pH Testing. The possible side effects include a mild sore throat and temporary irritation of the nasal passages. Some mild gagging may occur, however, once the tube is in place it is usually easily tolerated.
You are ready to go in about 30 to 45 minutes on the day of placement and can drive yourself home. You can go to work while the tube is in place and are encouraged to perform your usual daily activities as this will give an accurate test. On the return day, only 10-15 minutes are needed to gently remove the tube.
Preparation For Esophageal pH TestingIn general it is recommended that you have nothing by mouth for 6 hours prior to the procedure. Medications should generally not be taken on the morning of the examination, but can be taken immediately on its completion. Additionally, your physician may or may not want you to stop all acid suppressing medication such as Prilosec, Zantac, Prevacid, Protonix, Aciphex, Nexium and the like a week before the examination. Other medications may need to be discontinued prior to the test. Check to be sure you know whether these are to be continued or not. During the test you may eat and drink normally. In fact, you would want to adhere to the diet that best CAUSES the symptoms that are being investigated. Bring all of your medications with you and wear loose fitting clothing.
Please contact us for additional questions regarding esophageal pH testing.