Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which there is reflux or backflow of the acidic contents of the stomach into the esophagus. This gradually damages the lining of the esophagus producing symptoms such as heartburn and can even lead to esophageal cancer. To determine if you have gastroesophageal reflux, a Bravo pH monitoring test can be performed. It involves placing a small capsule within the esophagus to measure acidity levels for a duration of 48 hours.
Prior to the test, you are asked to gradually withdraw from all acid-regulating medication and fast for a period of 4-6 hours. Occasionally your doctor may ask you to continue taking a certain medication to determine how effective it is. The test can also determine the efficacy of surgical treatment for GERD.
Under anesthesia, your doctor introduces a thin viewing tube through your mouth and into your esophagus with the help of which the capsule is delivered and attached to the esophageal wall. The capsule measures pH levels and wirelessly relays information to a receiving device worn on a belt or waistband. Buttons on the device help you record when symptoms such as heartburn occur. You are also asked to maintain a diary in which you record the timing of activities such as eating, drinking and lying down. You should follow your regular routine and eat at the usual times. Following testing, the information from the receiving device and diary are analyzed by your doctor who determines the presence and severity of gastroesophageal disease. You can resume your regular activities right away. The capsule detaches on its own and passes through the gut in about 7-10 days.
Bravo pH monitoring provides accurate results as testing is carried out over a long duration and it does not limit your activities.