Acid Reflux: The Impedance pH Test

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Guest: Janice Freeman

Host: Dr. Linda Austin

Dr. Linda Austin: I am Dr. Linda Austin and I am talking today with Janice Freeman who is program coordinator for the esophageal function laboratory. Janice, in this podcast, we are going to be talking about impedance pH. Can you explain what that is, please?

Janice Freeman: The gold standard for reflux testing has been, in the past, just a standard pH testing. That is a test that is done basically to determine if someone has an abnormal amount of acid reflux that occurs. Impedance pH is a new technology that actually allows us to determine if someone has reflux despite being on anti-reflux medication. So, even though if they are still having symptoms and they are being treated for reflux, but they are still having symptoms, we can still test them to see if they are still having an abnormal amount of reflux.

Dr. Linda Austin: How do you perform that test?

Janice Freeman: This test is done by passing a small catheter through the nose and to the stomach. Prior to us passing the tube, we do numb the inside of the nose and the back of the throat. The tube is passed into the stomach and is connected to a very small recorder that basically records whenever the patient is eating or drinking or if they have symptoms. The test is a 16 hour procedure, so the patient will leave our facility and go home with the monitor overnight and return the next day.

Dr. Linda Austin: How long does it take to do this test?

Linda Freeman: Once they get to the esophageal function laboratory, we will do an esophageal manometry to know exactly where to place the small tube that they are going to leave with. So, the whole procedure itself probably takes about 45 minutes.

Dr. Linda Austin: I see. Then, it is removed the next day?

Linda Freeman: It is removed the next day. At our facility, the patients actually have the honor of removing it themselves. So, they can remove it the next morning themselves. One of the important factors about this test is that we want the patient to go home and try to have a normal day. So, you eat like you would normally eat. Any activities, you would continue with that. The only restriction is, because there is a computer involved, that they cannot get into the shower or into the water with it. Other than that, they are asked to have a normal day.

The procedure does not allow us to do any type of sedation. So, there is no sedation involved with the procedure, but the test is not very uncomfortable because the tube is even smaller than the tube we use to do the esophageal function test.

Dr. Linda Austin: Janice, thank you so much.

Janice Freeman: You are more than welcome. Thank you.

If you have any questions about the services or programs offered at the Medical University of South Carolina or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please call MUSC Health Connection: (843) 792-1414.

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