GERD (pH Monitoring)
More than 15 million Americans experience heartburn each day. Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, is most often found among the elderly and pregnant women but can cause discomfort and serious complications for many.
Is it Hearburn or is it GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition where acid from the stomach flows backward up into the esophagus. People will experience heartburn symptoms when excessive amounts of acid reflux into the esophagus. Many describe heartburn as a feeling of burning discomfort, localized behind the breastbone, that moves up toward the neck and throat. Some even experience the bitter or sour taste of the acid in the back of the throat. The burning and pressure symptoms of heartburn can last for several hours and often worsen after eating food. All of us may have occasional heartburn. However, frequent heartburn (two or more times a week), food sticking and blood or weight loss may be associated with GERD..
If you experience frequent heartburn, severe indigestion, nausea or acid reflux, physicians at the Digestive Disease Center may recommend a 24- to 48-hour pH monitoring test, known as Bravo, to determine if you have GERD.
Bravo is the world’s first catheter-free pH monitoring system for diagnosing heartburn and GERD. It enables the doctor to evaluate the patient’s heartburn symptoms to determine the frequency and amount of acid refluxing into the esophagus. This test allows patients to maintain their regular diet and activities and minimizes throat and nasal discomfort associated with conventional catheter-based pH systems.
The Bravo test involves a miniature pH capsule, about the size of a gelcap, that is attached to the patient’s esophagus.Throughout the testing period, the Bravo capsule measures the pH in the esophagus and transmits the information to a small external, pager-sized receiver worn on the belt or waistband. The patient is given a diary to write down the times when he or she has reflux symptoms while eating or while lying down. After the test is completed, the diary and the Bravo receiver are returned to the doctor. This information is then used to provide a comprehensive report, so the doctor can diagnose the situation.
When GERD is not treated, serious complications can occur, such as severe chest pain that can mimic a heart attack. Esophageal stricture (narrowing or obstruction of the esophagus), bleeding or a pre-malignant change in the lining of the esophagus called Barrett’s Esophagus may also occur in those where GERD goes untreated. A 1999 study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients with chronic, untreated heartburn of many years duration were at substantially greater risk of developing esophageal cancer, which is one of the fastest growing, and among the more lethal forms of cancer in this country.