Tests and Treatments
Before treating GERD, you must first be diagnosed. Most of the time, symptoms alone can provide doctors with the information they need to diagnose GERD. If symptoms respond quickly to treatment, further investigation is usually not necessary. However, if symptoms are slow to improve or persistent (long-term) treatment is required and diagnostic tests, including those listed below, may be needed.
- Endoscopy: This safe test involves passing a slim, flexible tube (endoscope) equipped with a light and tiny camera into the esophagus. The endoscope allows your doctor to examine the esophagus and stomach and collect tissue samples (biopsies) for further examination under a microscope.
- Barium X-ray: (upper GI series): A barium drink coats the lining of the upper digestive tract so it can be seen on an X-ray. X-rays allow your doctor to visualize the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and locate areas of damage or inflammation.
- 24-hour pH monitoring: A small tube (catheter) equipped with a one or two pH sensors is positioned in the esophagus. The sensor monitors the acidity in the esophagus over a 24-hour period and the data is stored on a small recorder worn around the waist for later analysis.
- Capsule-based pH testing: A capsule equipped with a pH sensor is positioned in the esophagus. The sensor monitors the acidity in the esophagus over a period of up to 96-hours and the data is stored on a small recorder worn around the waist for later analysis.
- Esophageal motility study (EMS): A small tube (catheter) equipped with sensors is positioned in the esophagus. During this test, the sensors measure movement and pressure within the esophagus and can evaluate if the LES is functioning properly.
For more information of the types of tools used for diagnostics, click here.
Once you begin treatment, your GERD symptoms should become less frequent and less severe. However, in some cases, reflux symptoms may be made worse or confused by abnormal motility or other conditions such as Helicobacter pylori gastritis (a common bacterium that can cause stomach inflammation and peptic ulcers), celiac disease (wheat or gluten intolerance), diabetes mellitus, gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying), gallstones or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
If your GERD symptoms persist, speak to your doctor, as you may need further investigation to rule out other causes or complications or alternative treatment options.
These resources were made possible through a partnership between Medtronic and CDHF