How is pH monitoring used to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease?

Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
The pH monitoring tests monitor an individual's gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) episodes over a day or two and measure pH levels in the esophagus. One method involves using endoscopy to insert a small capsule in the esophagus. The capsule is clipped in place for 48 hours and sends a radio transmitter signal recording pH levels. Patients can keep track of the times when they eat or sleep and find out how their pH levels correlate with these activities. The doctor might ask the patient to stop taking medication during this time to see how the gut responds without medication.

In another method, the doctor passes a thin, acid-sensing probe through the nose and positions it just above the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) -- the muscle connecting the esophagus and stomach. The probe stays in place for 24 hours to assess pH and reflux levels.

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