24-Hour Esophageal pH Study & Procedure Instructions

24-Hour Esophageal pH Study is used to measure the number of the reflux episodes during a person’s day, when endoscopy (EGD) findings are normal. This test determines the severity of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and measures the amount of time stomach acid is present in the esophagus. A benefit is that it allows for the evaluation of a patient’s symptoms with activity, at home or work and especially during sleep. Study results will show if reflux is the cause of non-cardiac chest pain, hoarseness, coughing, halitosis or asthma. This information will assist your physician in planning your treatment.

Your appointment will last 30-40 minutes; this includes out-patient admission, instruction and placement of the pH catheter. If esophageal manometry is also being performed at the same time, the procedure will be longer, approximately 1-1 ½ hours.

The procedure takes place in an examination room at the hospital. No sedation is given. You will be lying on an examination table during the placement. You do not have to remove your clothing.

A nurse will spray your throat with a topical anesthetic and will use an anesthetic lubricant on the small, flexible pH tube. The tube is 1/8 inch in diameter: about 1/3 the diameter of a pencil. This tube is gently placed into one nostril and guided into your esophagus. The end of the tube is positioned precisely 2 inches above the diaphragm, where acid sensing occurs.

After the pH catheter is placed, the catheter is secured with small pieces of tape at the end of your nose and the side of your face. The catheter is attached to a recorder worn on a belt, which is provided.

You will not be able to bathe or shower with this catheter in place. Some patients find that the catheter does not interfere with their normal activities; others find it annoying and would appreciate having someone drive them home. It may make your eyes water, your nose run, and your throat sore.

Because we are interested in knowing whether certain symptoms are associated with acid in the esophagus, we will ask you to keep a written log. In this log you will mark the time and duration of certain symptoms, such as chest pain, heartburn and cough.

You will need to visit our office 24 hours later for removal of the catheter; this return visit will take about 5 minutes.

24-hour pH esophageal monitoring is a very low-risk procedure. Complications, such as perforations (tearing) or bleeding of the gastrointestinal wall can occur, but they are extremely rare.

Note: The information in this section is provided as a supplement to information discussed with your healthcare provider. It is not intended to serve as a complete description of a particular topic or substitute for a clinic visit.