Dealing with the symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) makes daily life troubling. Heartburn, a sour taste in your mouth, sleepless nights, nausea, burping, and chest pain make it hard to work, sleep, and enjoy eating. Don’t let these symptoms ruin your life; make an appointment with a doctor to get tested to find out the cause.
There are a number of different tests used to diagnose GERD, all of which we perform here at Tampa Bay Reflux Center. Which tests we use is based off each patient’s individual case and the severity of their symptoms, chances are that if GERD is suspected, however, you’ll be scheduled for at least one of the following procedures:
Ph monitoring takes 24 hours to complete. A small tube with a sensor is passed down your nose and lowered into the esophagus. It is left in and connected to a very small recording device that you can carry with you. During the test, the doctor will expect you to write in a notebook what you eat and drink during the 24 hour period. When you experience symptoms of acid reflux you will push a button on the recording device you are given.
From the results of the test, the doctor analyzes the information and makes a diagnosis. This test has a wireless version with a sensor that is attached to your esophagus using suction. It communicates with a recording device wirelessly. After the test is complete you will pass the device through a bowel movement. Many patients have found the wireless version less intrusive than the traditional method of ph monitoring.
Endoscopy and Biopsy
An endoscopy is another test used to diagnose GERD. The doctor inserts a small tube with a camera down the throat and into the esophagus. This enables him to clearly see the stomach lining and the esophagus. Patients are given a mild sedative to help calm their nerves, or the throat is sprayed with an analgesic to make the procedure more tolerable. The test lasts about 20 minutes and performed as an outpatient procedure.
The doctor will be looking for growths, ulcers, and other changes. Sometimes during this procedure the doctor performs a biopsy. A small surgical instrument is used with the scope to remove a sample of tissue. Samples of tissue are sent to the lab to be analyzed. This helps the doctor make an effective diagnosis to treat your condition.
Manometry is a test used to diagnose GERD. It is used to view the sphincter muscle that opens and closes the esophagus, otherwise known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter. Patients are given a numbing agent before the test. It will be applied to the insides of your nose. A tube will be passed through the nose into the esophagus and stomach.
When the tube is positioned at the correct angle, you will lay on your left side. The sensors on the device will measure the pressure in the esophagus and stomach. You may be asked to drink some water so they can record the muscle contractions of the sphincter. A weakened LES is typically the cause of many GERD symptoms, so that’s what they’ll be looking for during the manometry.
Barium Swallow Radiograph
This test is used to rule out any growth or obstruction in your esophagus and stomach. You will have to drink a solution of barium before the procedure. This barium solution is a metallic compound that shows up on x-rays and will help highlight any abnormalities in the esophagus and stomach. Only one out of three patients show changes to the esophagus during the test. Often a continuous x-ray beam is used during the test, and it is sometimes transmitted to TV screen so motion and muscle contractions can be seen by the doctor.
These are the most common tests used to diagnose GERD. Don’t let GERD symptoms ruin your life, contact a qualified GI specialist and get tested. Although these tests are scary, they will put an end to your suffering. Many different GERD treatments are available to help you get your life back.