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Dr Paul Froomes - Consultant Physician & Gastroenterologist - pH testing (24hr)

24hr pH testing

If you have symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux, your physician may want to determine the amount of acid (the pH) that is getting into your oesophagus from your stomach and/or the amount of bile getting into your oesophagus from your stomach.

24 Hour pH StudyWhat is a ambulatory pH monitoring test?

The ambulatory 24-hour pH monitoring test will monitor the acid in your oesophagus during a 24-hour period. It involves the placement of a very small diameter pH probe through the nasal passage which is swallowed into the oesophagus with drinks of water. The tube will be attached to a mini-computer held in a purse-like carrying case so that you may carry on a normal day, including usual activities, and regular eating habits. You will not be able to drink alcohol, or take any medications that would change the pH, or acid versus alkaline, in your oesophagus during the testing (consult your physician if you are unsure). You will be asked to keep a simple diary. Complete instructions about the diary will be given to you at the time of the tube placement.

How long will the test take?

The tube will be removed the next day at a appointment time set up by the GI nurse before you leave. It generally takes about 30 minutes to place the tube and give you instructions. You will then be sent home with the tube inplace for approximately 24 hours.

Are there any special preparations for the test?

  • You should not eat or drink after midnight the night before your exam when scheduled for a morning appointment.
  • If scheduled for an afternoon appointment, you may have clear liquids until 10 a.m. on the day of your exam, then nothing by mouth after that time.
  • On occasion, this test is done immediately after an oesophageal manometry test. When this is ordered, both tests will be scheduled into the same day and time.
  • If you have diabetes and take insulin, do not take any regular insulin and take one-half your usual Lente (LEN-tay) or NPH dose. The GI nurse will inform you which medications not to take during the test.

Diet instructions for the pH test

You will be asked to eat at least two meals. The meals you eat will depend on the time frame during which you're undergoing the test. For one of your meals we would like you to eat a regular hamburger, regular fries and a vanilla milkshake that you buy from any fast-food outlet (i.e., McDonald's, Burger King, Hungry Jacks). If you don't like hamburgers, you can substitute a chicken burger. If you are a vegetarian you may substitute any type of "Garden" burger. For your other meal we will ask you to pick and choose from the following list. Please try to plan a well balanced meal that includes meat, bread, vegetables and fruit. We realize that eating may aggravate your symptoms, but it is important to eat two good meals.

Are there any complications?

The complications of this procedure are exceedingly rare, with the most significant being oesophageal perforation. Sometimes your nose might bleed and you may have a sore throat after the test.

If you have questions regarding whether you need to have these tests, you should call the physician who requested that you have the testing. He or she will be able to answer your questions.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 February 2008 )