Esophageal pH impedance testing is a test to assess the degree of reflux a patient is having. If you suffer from chronic heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), your doctor may order this 24-hour test to help determine the source of your symptoms in order to prescribe the best treatment options. This test measures how often stomach acid refluxes up into the lower esophagus,
and tries to correlate this with symptoms a patient is experiencing. This can be done while a patient is taking medications for acid reflux, or can be done “off” these medications. It is important to clarify with your doctor whether you should be taking your reflux medications during this test.
A thin, flexible tube with sensors is carefully inserted through a nostril into your esophagus where it transmits information to a small pH monitor worn on your belt. This process takes about ten minutes. You will wear the monitor for 24 hours while it measures the acid content of your esophagus, keeping a journal where you record each time you experience heartburn, chest pain or other periods of symptoms. You may feel some discomfort in your chest when eating, which is normal as food or esophageal contraction tugs on the sensor as it passes. Once the testing period is over, your doctor will review both your journal and the monitor to determine the appropriate treatment.
As with any medical procedure, there are certain risks. While serious side effects of this procedure are extremely rare, it is possible that you could experience irregular heartbeats, aspiration (when stomach contents flow back into the esophagus and are breathed into the lung), or perforation (a hole in the esophagus). During insertion, the tube may be misdirected into the windpipe before being repositioned. Precautions are taken to prevent such risks, but we believe the risks are far outweighed by the benefits of this test.