Stop Heartburn: Why Test for Acid Reflux?
- Do you have frequent indigestion or a burning sensation in the center of your chest?
- Do you regularly get sour or bitter-tasting fluids in your throat or mouth?
- Do you avoid lying flat or bending over to prevent acid from backing up into your throat?
If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, you might have chronic (more than twice per week) heartburn or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). The heartburn may be so severe that it interferes with your daily routine. Frequent or chronic heartburn may be associated with more serious medical problems such as difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), narrowing of the esophagus (strictures), and Barrett’s esophagus.
Ambulatory pH testing is the most definitive study for the diagnoses of GERD because it actually measures the reflux of acid into the lower esophagus. Most patients have never had this diagnostic test even though they are taking medications they will likely take for life. Approximately 30% of people taking PPIs do not have GERD, and thus are taking the medications unnecessarily. This test can definitively establish if GERD is (or is not) present. As a result, the patient can be appropriately treated or other conditions causing a patient’s symptoms can be investigated.
How it Works?
After administering intravenous sedation, Dr. Darido will first perform an upper endoscopy. He then places a Bravo capsule into your esophagus using a delivery device. The test involves a miniature pH capsule, approximately the size of a gelcap, which is temporarily attached to the wall of your esophagus.
Throughout the test period, the Bravo pH capsule will measure the pH in the esophagus and transmit this information to a small recorder worn on your belt or waistband just like a mobile phone. Once the Bravo capsule has been placed and you have been instructed how to use the recorder, you can leave the endoscopy suite and go about your normal activities.
Dr. Darido will instruct you on how to use the recorder and when to return the equipment. You will be given a diary to write down the times when you have reflux symptoms (coughing, heartburn, regurgitation), when you eat and when you lie down.
Once the test has been completed, you will need to return the recorder and the test data will then be uploaded to a computer. Dr. Darido will analyze the information to diagnose your condition.