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An esophageal pH test measures and records the pH in your esophagus to determine if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The test can also be done to determine the effectiveness of medications or surgical treatment for GERD.
Esophageal reflux is a condition in which stomach acid refluxes or moves back into the esophagus (the food pipe leading from the mouth to the stomach).
A specialized muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter, is located where the esophagus meets the stomach. This sphincter opens to allow flood and liquid to pass into the stomach, then closes. When the sphincter does not close tightly, food particles, stomach acid and other digestive juices can splash back up into the esophagus. When this happens, the condition is called gastroesophageal reflux. When reflux occurs on a regular basis, it can cause permanent damage to the esophagus. The esophageal pH test measures how often stomach contents reflux into the lower esophagus and how much acid the reflux contains.
A thin, small tube with an acid sensing device on the tip is gently passed through your nose, down the esophagus (food tube), and positioned about 5.08cm (2 inches) above the lower esophageal sphincter. The tube is secured to the side of your face with clear tape. The end of the tube exiting from your nose is attached to a portable recorder that is worn on your belt or over your shoulder. The recorder has several buttons on it that you will press to mark certain events. A nurse will review the monitoring instructions with you.
Please note: Occasionally, your doctor may want you to continue taking a certain medication during the monitoring period to determine if it is effective.
You will return the next day to have the tube removed. The information on the recorder will be downloaded to a computer and the results will be analyzed.
Resume your normal diet and medications. Lozenges or hard candy may help ease any sore throat caused by the tube. Your doctor will discuss the results of your test with you during your next scheduled appointment.