Heartburn Diagnosis

Medical Author: Jay W. Marks, M.D.

It happens about once a week. A patient arrives in the office, referred by his or her doctor for esophageal acid testing. The patient has had what he or she calls "heartburn" (the main symptom of acid reflux, or GERD, gastroesophageal reflux) for years and has been taking prescription medication for acid reflux once and sometimes twice a day. How much is the medication helping? Not a lot, maybe 25%. Nevertheless, the patient's been faithful about taking the medicine for the last two years......at no small expense. I proceed with the testing. I put the tiny catheter down into the patient's esophagus, attach it to the recorder, and begin measuring the acid that is refluxing (or backwashing) into the esophagus. The patient leaves the office and comes back the next day when I remove the catheter and calculate the amount of acid that is refluxing. There is none.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014

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