Esophageal pH Monitoring Test for Heartburn and Acid Reflux

What is the pH Monitoring Test?

The esophageal pH test is an outpatient procedure performed to measure the pH or amount of acid that flows into the esophagus from the stomach during a 24-hour period.

The procedure is commonly used to help identify the cause of various symptoms, including:

The test may also be performed to evaluate the effectiveness of current treatments for heartburn or reflux. This test is often recommended for those whose symptoms aren't helped by medications.

How Is the Esophageal pH Test Performed?
The equipment used in the esophageal pH test consists of a small probe that is inserted through your nostril and positioned near the lower esophagus. The probe is plugged into a small unit (or monitor) worn on your belt or over your shoulder. A newer, wireless device may make monitoring the pH level easier: Instead of having to have a tube placed down your nose for 24 hours, your doctor will place a disposable capsule into the esophagus using an endoscope. The capsule then wirelessly transmits information to a receiver worn around the waist.

With the touch of a button on your monitor, it will record the occurrence of symptoms and the times when you eat and lie down

A nurse will review the monitoring instructions with you.  Be careful with the monitor and keep it dry at all times.

What Happens before the Esophageal pH Test?
Follow instructions provided by your physician.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, have a lung or heart condition or any other diseases, or are allergic to any medications.

Can I Continue to Take Medication Before the Esophageal pH Test?
There are several medications that may affect the results of an esophageal pH test. These include:

There are other drugs that may affect the test results. Talk to your doctor about all medications you are taking before undergoing the procedure.

Do not discontinue any medication without first consulting with your doctor. If proton pump inhibitors need to be discontinued, you will take a week off these drugs before doing the test.

Occasionally your doctor may ask you to continue a certain medication during the monitoring period to see if it is effective. 

What Should I Do During the Esophageal pH Test?

What Information Should I Record During the Esophageal pH Test?

What Happens After the Esophageal pH Test Monitoring Period?
At your next appointment, your doctor will discuss the results of your esophageal pH test with you.  You may resume your normal diet and activities.  You may feel a temporary soreness in your throat. Lozenges may help.