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Esophagus Tests

How It Feels

The local anesthetic sprayed into your nose and throat usually tastes slightly bitter and will make your tongue and throat feel numb and swollen.

When the tube goes through your nose or mouth into your esophagus, you may feel like coughing or gagging. The test may be easier if you try to take slow, deep breaths. You may not like the taste of the lubricant on the tube.

If you have a test that involves adding acid to your stomach, you may have heartburn pain and other symptoms of acid reflux.

If you have the wireless pH monitoring, you may be able to feel the capsule in your esophagus. You will not feel the capsule when it detaches and passes through your intestines and out of your body in your stool.

After the test is over, your nose and throat may feel sore. But this should improve within a day or so.

Risks

The chances that you will have problems from an esophagus test are rare.

  • You may get a nosebleed.
  • You may have irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).
  • The tube may go down the windpipe (trachea) instead of the esophagus as it is being inserted.
  • You may vomit material from your stomach and then breathe it into your lungs (aspiration).
  • The tube may make a hole in the esophagus (perforation).

Results

Esophagus tests measure muscle pressure and movement, coordination, and strength of the tube that connects the throat to the stomach (esophagus). They test how well the ring of muscles (sphincters) at the top and bottom of the esophagus work. Esophagus tests also measure the movement and volume of gas, liquid, and solid through the esophagus and its pH (acid or nonacid). Results are usually available within a few days.

pH monitoring
Normal:
  • The pH of the esophagus is not acidic.
  • If acid is placed in the stomach, the pH of the esophagus does not go down.
Abnormal:
  • The pH of the lower esophagus is frequently acidic.
  • If acid is placed in the stomach, the pH of the lower esophagus goes down.

 

Esophageal manometry
Normal:
  • The pressure of the muscle contractions that move food down the esophagus is normal.
  • The muscle contractions follow a normal pattern down the esophagus.
  • The pressure at the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is normal.
Abnormal:
  • Muscle spasms are present in the esophagus.
  • Contractions along the esophagus are weak or uncoordinated.
  • The LES pressure is low.
  • The LES pressure is high and fails to relax after swallowing.

 

Many conditions can change the results of esophagus tests. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Taking certain medicines. Many medicines can affect the results of pH testing or esophageal manometry. Make sure you follow your doctor's instructions about which medicines to stop or to take before and during testing.
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol within 24 hours of the test.
  • Eating or drinking within 8 hours of the test, unless you are having prolonged pH monitoring at home. If you are having prolonged pH monitoring, try to eat normally and do your normal activities.
  • Detachment of the wireless pH capsule before the end of the recording time (usually 24 or 48 hours).
  • Movement of the catheter when you swallow.

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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