pH Monitoring Study
Endoscopy Procedures (Digestive System)
What is the test?
A pH study is used to determine the amount of acid in your esophagus (the
swallowing tube that connects the back of your throat and your stomach). Your
doctor may order a pH study to help diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (also
known as GERD or chronic heartburn). Traditionally pH levels have been
monitored with a catheter that is placed down the patient’s nose and into the
esophagus. This was uncomfortable and many patients found it embarrassing to go
out with the catheter in their noses. Cayuga Medical
Center has a
state-of-the-art monitoring system that is much more comfortable and patient-friendly, which utilizes a miniature capsule to
measure your pH levels over a 48-hour period.
How do I prepare?
You should discontinue acid-blocking medications for GERD for up to one week
prior to the exam, so be sure to discuss this with your physician. Since you
will be under mild sedation during a brief procedure, you must bring a friend
or family member to drive you home after the exam. If you are using taxi or bus
service for transportation, a friend or family member must accompany you. Sedation
can make people forgetful, so plan the rest of your day accordingly.
What can I expect during the procedure?
Please plan to check in at Outpatient Registration 30 minutes prior to your
procedure. When you arrive in the Endoscopy Department, a nurse will greet you
and take your health history and blood pressure, and the doctor will answer any
questions you have about the procedure. You may receive an intravenous sedative
to make you drowsy. The physician will then introduce the pH capsule through
your mouth and advance it slowly into the esophagus, where the capsule will be
attached (clipped) to the wall of your esophagus. The procedure itself lasts 5
to 20 minutes, and you should plan to spend a total of 1-2 hours in the medical
The pH capsule contains a small radio that transmits data to a pager-sized
receiver you wear on your belt or waistband, just like a pager or mobile phone.
You will be given a diary in which to write down the times when you have reflux
symptoms (i.e. coughing, heartburn, regurgitation) when eating or when lying
You may be aware of sensation in your chest; some patients describe it as a
tugging sensation. You may feel the capsule when you eat or drink. If you
experience this, chewing carefully and drinking sufficient liquids may help
minimize the sensation.
How and when will I get my test results?
capsule is placed and you are fully awake, your companion can drive you home.
You may eat normally and go about your daily routine. After the test period
(usually 48 hours), you will go back to the medical center to return your diary
and the receiver. The nurse will download the collected data into a computer,
where the information can be evaluated by a gastroenterologist, who will call
you with the results of the study in a few days. Several days after the test,
the capsule naturally falls off the wall of the esophagus, passes through your
digestive tract, is eliminated from the body, and flushed away. (As a
precaution, however, you should not undergo an MRI study within 30 days of pH
is the test performed?
PH monitoring is performed at Cayuga
at 101 Dates Drive, off NYS Route 96 in Ithaca.