24 Hour PH Probe
The purpose of this test is to monitor, over a 24-hour period, the amount of acid that refluxes into the esophagus.
The test is performed for patients with heartburn, hoarseness, chronic cough, atypical chest pain, and adult onset asthma.
What to Expect
During a 24-hour pH procedure, you will wear a monitor. The doctor will place a thin, flexible tube or catheter through your nose and into the esophagus. The tip of the catheter is sensitive to acids and it will measure the flow of liquid from the stomach to the esophagus. It will be left in for 24 hours. You can go about your normal activities, but you should not try to shower or bathe while wearing the catheter and monitor. The monitor will have several buttons on it. Nurses will instruct you on which events prompt the pushing of the different buttons.
What preparation is required?
You will be instructed to stop eating four to six hours before the probe is placed. The doctor will also give you specific directions pertaining to any medications you are taking.
What about my current medications?
The doctor will go through the specifics of how to handle your medicine before and during the 24-hour pH probe. Sometimes this test is performed while taking your medications and sometimes you will be asked to stop them. Six hours before the procedure begins, do not take any type of antacids. Two days before your scheduled procedure, you may be asked to stop taking H2 blockers like Zantac, Tagamet, or Pepcid. Seven days prior to your appointment, you may be asked to stop taking proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec or Nexium.
What are the possible complications of the 24-hour pH probe?
The 24-hour pH probe is a very safe procedure. You may feel a little discomfort in the nose and throat. It should be very mild and temporary. Occasionally, a nosebleed could occur as a result of the probe, but it is unlikely. It is extremely rare, but the probe could cause a tear in the wall of a lung, the throat, or the esophagus.
What happens after a 24-hour pH probe?
Your throat may be sore for a couple of days after the probe. Throat lozenges can provide some relief or sucking on hard candy can help. After the probe is removed, you can return to your normal diet and medications.
What if the 24-hour pH probe shows something abnormal?
In most cases, once the probe is removed you will have another appointment scheduled where the doctor will give you the results of the pH test. If the test reveals your pH is normal, then the doctor may consider other types of testing. If there is too much acid in the esophagus, it can mean the presence of other conditions. Your doctor will then discuss what the results mean and what types of further testing or treatment options should be considered.