What is pHmetry?
pHmetry is a diagnostic test of the digestive tract to detect the acidity levels of the esophagus. It is performed using a probe with acid-sensitive receptors.
What does it consist of?
pHmetry consists of placing a probe through one of the patient’s nostrils into the lower portion of the esophagus. This probe is a flexible tube approximately 2 mm in diameter and contains sensors at the end. The patient must breathe through the nose to place the tube correctly. Anesthesia or sedation is not usually used in pHmetry, as it may alter the results.
Gastroesophageal reflux problems cause heartburn and bloating.
Why is it performed?
pH metry is usually performed in patients presenting with heartburn, heartburn (pyrosis) or regurgitation, to determine acid levels in the esophagus from the stomach.
Patients affected by gastroesophageal reflux often require this test for diagnosis and assessment of the treatments they are undergoing. In fact, this test is more sensitive than endoscopy in detecting this pathology, and identifies more than 90% of patients with reflux.
Preparation for pH metry
In the 48-72 hours prior to the test, the patient should avoid the consumption of tobacco and exciting substances such as caffeine. In the 6-8 hours prior to the test, food and liquid intake should also be avoided.
Always before the procedure the patient should inform the specialist about the treatments and medications being taken to see if they can influence the results of the test. For example, you should avoid taking antacid medications at least 8 hours before the test, as they will significantly influence the result.
What does the test feel like?
As no sedatives or anesthesia are used during the test, the patient may feel discomfort in the nose and throat, and may even experience slight bleeding.
This discomfort occurs mainly when inserting and removing the probe, but during the test it is usually easily endured. In fact, in some cases, 24-hour pHmetry is performed, in which the patient must wear the probe for a whole day and eat and sleep normally.
Meaning of abnormal results
Abnormal results will mean that there are high levels of acid in the esophagus. The digestive specialist will determine the degree of reflux the patient has and will be able to see the cause, such as esophageal sphincter problems.
Thus, the patient may need drug therapy to treat reflux and heartburn problems, or even surgery if he or she does not respond well to medications.