If you are over 50 years of age, have had GERD symptoms for five years or longer, have uncommon or concerning GERD symptoms, or your GERD symptoms do not dissipate with medication, your doctor may order further diagnostic tests. Learn about esophageal acid testing, barium swallow, Bernstein test and upper GI endoscopy, by taking this quiz.
There are several diagnostic tests related to GERD. Most of these tests assess the damage done to your esophagus as a result of acid reflux.
Esophageal acid testing involves inserting a small tube down your esophagus, which remains there for 24 hours while you go about your daily activities. This test measures how much acid travels into your esophagus during that time.
An esophageal acid testing, also known as a 24-hour pH monitoring test, can determine what factors contribute to acid reflux.
An esophageal acid test is typically done to rule out other health conditions that can mimic GERD symptoms. For this reason, people who have GERD symptoms but no esophageal damage are most likely to receive an esophageal acid test.
In order to determine the triggers of acid reflux, you will be required to keep a GERD diary during an esophageal acid test. This diary should detail what you eat, when you eat, any GERD-related symptoms and what you were doing when these symptoms occurred.
An esophageal acid test may be mildly discomforting. You may also continue to feel some discomfort after the tube is removed. Keep in mind, this test involves a small tube being placed into your nostril and down your throat for 24 hours.
A barium swallow, also known as an esophagram or upper GI series, assesses anomalies and defects in your esophagus.
In a barium swallow test, you will be asked to digest a contrast solution. Your doctor will then assess your upper gastrointestinal tract with X-rays.
Although there are no immediate side effects of a barium swallow test, you may later experience constipation and chalky stool.
A Bernstein test, also known as an acid perfusion test, involves a catheter being placed into your esophagus. This is followed by inserting a saline solution and then an acid solution into your esophagus. During the test, you are asked whether you experience any symptoms.
A Bernstein test helps determine if uncommon GERD symptoms, such as chest pain, are the result of acid reflux or other factors, such as angina.
Inserting the catheter during a Bernstein test may produce mild pain. You may also experience pain or discomfort when the solutions are poured into your esophagus.
An upper GI endoscopy involves placing a gastroscope down your esophagus. Using this scope your doctor can examine your esophageal lining and take a biopsy if s/he suspects Barrett's esophagus or an infection.
An upper GI endoscopy is usually reserved for people who have persistent GERD symptoms, suspected Barrett's esophagus, esophageal infection, or to rule out other conditions, such as peptic ulcer disease.
You may experience burping and a sore throat up to four days after an upper GI endoscopy.