What is Involved in PH Monitoring?

man explaining symptoms to doctorIf your doctor suspects that you have gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), you may be asked to undergo pH, a common outpatient test.

In this blog, the gastroenterologists at Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center (GPDDC) explain what’s involved in pH monitoring.

What is pH monitoring?

pH monitoring is a test that measures the pH or amount of stomach acid that moves into the esophagus during a 48-hour period. It also measures how long it stays there.

Why is it used?

This type of test is often used to confirm a diagnosis of GERD, which is characterized by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. If you’ve already been diagnosed with GERD and are receiving treatment, pH monitoring can also be useful in determining how well your treatment is working.

A pH test can also help your doctor learn whether some uncommon symptoms of GERD (such as chest pain) are caused by acid reflux or another cause.

What is involved with pH monitoring?

A pH test can be performed in one of two ways:

Using a catheter with a sensor

A very thin catheter will be carefully inserted through a nostril and guided into your esophagus. It measures the levels of acid just above the lower esophageal sphincter, which, when working as it should, prevents stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus. This information is then transmitted to a monitor you wear on your belt or over your shoulder.

Since data is collected over a 24-hour period, you’ll go home with the catheter in place, and you’ll be able to eat and do all the activities you normally do. You’ll be asked to record when you eat, lie down, and are active so your doctor can see what effect these activities have on your acid levels.

Using a battery-operated capsule

This method of monitoring utilizes a disposable capsule that your doctor can place in your esophagus via the nose by using a catheter. The catheter is removed after the capsule is inserted, and the capsule is then able to wirelessly transmit information about your acid levels to your receiver. After two to three days, the capsule passes out of your body through your stool.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of GERD such as heartburn – or if you have already been diagnosed and are wondering how effective your treatment is – make an appointment today with Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center (GPDDC). We offer pH testing to help diagnose GERD and gauge the effectiveness of your treatment.

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