A 24 hour pH study is performed so that a correlation between symptoms and episodes of oesophagitis (inflammation of the gullet) can be established. The major indications for pH monitoring are:
- Typical symptoms, without endoscopic signs of inflammation and not responding to reflux medications i.e. heartburn, indigestion, regurgitation, nausea.
- Atypical symptoms, such as cough, asthma, hoarseness or chest pain in patients without endoscopic confirmation of the reflux symptoms.
A pH probe is a very small soft flexible tube which is inserted down through the nose to the stomach, and is then pulled back about 5cm to sit just above the entrance to the stomach, in the oesophagus. Five days prior to having this procedure you must have ceased any of your medication for your reflux symptoms, such as Losec, Zantac, or Zoton. Your stomach needs to be totally empty for this procedure, so you cannot have anything to eat or drink (including water) for six hours prior to your pH study.
This procedure is not painful, but may be slightly uncomfortable as it passes down the nasal passage to the back of the throat. Once you feel the probe at the back of your throat, you will be asked to start swallowing a glass of water using a straw, thus aiding the probe’s passage into the stomach. Once in your stomach, the probe is pulled back to sit in the oesophagus, where it will record any reflux symptoms over the next 24hours on a small walkman-like computer. You will also be given a diary where you need to record all your meal times, what time you went to bed and what time you woke up, plus any reflux, coughing, or nausea symptoms you may have had. The process itself will take about 15-20 minutes to insert the probe and to go over any computer management and note keeping details. It is advisable to wear a shirt and skirt or trousers for your appointment.
Whilst the probe is in place, you will be able to continue all normal activities, including eating and drinking as per usual. The only restriction with this test is that you are not allowed to shower, bath or swim as the computer is connected to your probe throughout the entire test.
Approximately 24 hours after the insertion of your probe, you will need to come back to our rooms to have your probe removed. This only takes about 5 minutes. All data that was recorded during your test will be uploaded to our main computer, where you results are finalised. These results will either be sent on to your referring doctor or an appointment will be made for you to see Dr McIntyre.