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What is an esophageal pH test?

A 24- or 48-hour (Bravo) esophageal pH study measures how much stomach acid backs up into the food pipe in 24 or 48 hours, respectively. The most common uses for this gold standard test are: to diagnose GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a feeling of heartburn, pain, and food coming back up, or to diagnose patients with atypical chest pain, recurring pneumonia, or throat symptoms.

An esophageal pH test is performed using one of two techniques.

  • A small flexible tube is passed through your nose down into your esophagus. This process will only be uncomfortable for a few short moments. Once the tube is in position you will hardly feel it. There are sensors on the tube at various positions which record the pH over the course of 24 hours. The tube is removed from the nose after the test is completed.
  • An endoscopy is performed. At which time, a small probe is secured to the inside of your esophagus. This probe transmits information to a wireless device worn on the person’s body. The probe will eventually fall off and pass through the intestinal tract without difficulty.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.