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Esophagus Tests

How To Prepare

To prepare for an esophagus test:

  • Do not take antacids (such as Tums or Rolaids) for 24 hours before the test.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for using other acid reducers or blockers, such as famotidine (Pepcid) or omeprazole (Prilosec), before the test.
  • Do not drink alcohol or smoke for 24 hours before the test.
  • Do not eat or drink for 8 to 12 hours before testing.
  • Tell your doctor if you have any other problems, such as enlarged esophageal blood vessels (esophageal varices), heart failure, or other heart conditions.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

You will be seated. You may be given a spray medicine that numbs your nose and throat. For each esophagus test, a thin, flexible tube will be passed through your nose or mouth to your lower esophagus and stomach. This may make you feel like you have to gag. To help overcome this feeling, concentrate on breathing slowly. Your pulse and blood pressure may be monitored while the tube is being inserted.

pH monitoring

  • A probe that measures pH will be passed through your nose or mouth into your lower esophagus. The probe monitors the pH in your esophagus so your doctor can tell whether the pH drops because of liquid from your stomach backing up into your esophagus.
  • For prolonged pH monitoring, the pH probe is attached to a small recorder. You carry the recorder by a strap around your waist or over your shoulder. The probe measures the pH of your esophagus for up to 24 hours while you go about your routine daily activities. During the monitoring period, you will need to use a diary to keep track of your activities and any symptoms you develop. You may be asked to avoid high-acid foods such as fruit, fruit juice, and tomatoes during the testing period. You will not be able to take a bath, except for a careful sponge bath, or do anything else that might get the monitor wet during the recording period.
  • For wireless pH monitoring, a capsule containing a pH-sensitive transmitter is placed in your esophagus during an endoscopy procedure. You carry a small pager-sized receiver in your pocket or wear it around your waist. During the monitoring period, you will need to use a diary to keep track of your activities and any symptoms you develop. You will be instructed to press the symptom button when you have heartburn, chest pain, or regurgitation. You can bathe during the monitoring period. When the testing period is over, return the receiver and your diary to your doctor for evaluation. The transmitter capsule will pass out of your body in a bowel movement, usually within a few days.

Esophageal manometry

  • You will swallow a small tube attached to instruments (transducers) that measure pressure. The tube has holes in it that sense pressure along the esophagus. It will be positioned in different areas of your esophagus.
  • You may be asked to swallow several times or to drink liquids while pressure measurements are taken.
  • You may be asked to swallow, not swallow, or hold your breath during the test.
  • The results of the manometry test are displayed as a graph with a wave pattern that can be interpreted to determine if the esophagus is functioning normally.

If you have multichannel intraluminal impedance (MII) testing done with either pH or manometry, it will be done in very much the same ways as described above. The catheters used to do MII with pH or manometry testing will include instruments that measure volume of food and liquid in the esophagus as well as pH or pressure.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 16, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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