pH Probe Study

A pH probe study may be ordered by your doctor if he/she suspects gastroesophageal reflux is occurring. Reflux is a condition in which the acids from the stomach leak back into the esophagus, thereby causing irritation.

A thin, plastic tube with a sensor on the tip is placed through your nose that goes down into your esophagus to measure how acidic the area is. A chest x-ray is taken to confirm the tip of the tube is in the correct place. Then, a wire is connected to a portable machine that records the acidity (pH value) of your esophagus.

Before the Test

Acid reducing medications should not be taken for 2-5 days prior to your pH probe or as directed by your physician. Your child should not have anything to eat or drink for 4 hours before the pH probe is placed.

During and After the Test

You may participate in all of your normal activities during the 18-24 hour duration of the test, however carbonated beverages should be avoided. You should keep a diary of symptoms that occur during the test (such as crying, coughing, chest pain, or refusing to eat) as well as the time the symptoms occur. Do not take a shower or bath during the study, and do not disconnect the recorder.

After the 18-24 hour period of the test, the tube will be removed and the information from the recorder will be analyzed. Your doctor will determine how abnormal your esophagus is from this test and may suggest helpful treatments.

Step by Step Process with Pictures

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Jalen is going to the hospital today for a pH probe study. He will either have a pH probe placed at the doctor’s office or in the hospital. If the pH probe will be inserted at the doctor’s office on the 5th floor of the Medical Office Building, Nurse Lindsay will show Jalen and his family what the pH probe looks like, and will explain the procedure.
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Jalen can see that the pH probe is tiny and won’t hurt to be placed. Nurse Lindsay says “It will feel like a tickle in your nose when I place the pH probe. You can help me when I place the pH probe if you swallow when I ask you to swallow.”
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Jalen lies on his back to get in the right position for the procedure. Nurse Lindsay begins to put the pH probe in and says, “Jalen, please swallow for me.”
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Once the pH probe is placed, Nurse Lindsay will tape the pH probe in place with 4 pieces of white tape. Look, Jalen has a white mustache! Nurse Lindsay explains to Jalen’s parents that Jalen needs to have his picture taken and x-ray done to make sure the pH probe is in the right spot.
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Jalen and his family go to the Radiology department to have Jalen’s picture taken and to verify the pH probe is in the right spot. Jalen and his family will then go back to the doctor’s office.
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If the pH probe is in the right spot, Nurse Lindsay starts the data recorder and gives instructions to Jalen’s parents. When the data recorder has been started, and all questions have been answered, Jalen can go home. He can carry the data recorder like a purse or satchel.
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Nurse Lindsay explains to Jalen’s parents that they will return to the doctor’s office between 8:00 and 8:30AM the next morning to have Jalen’s pH probe removed.
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The next day, Jalen and his family return to the doctor’s office to have the pH probe taken out. Nurse Lindsay says, “It won’t hurt at all, and I will use a magic wipe to get rid of the stickiness of the tape.” Nurse Lindsay removes the tape and quickly removes the pH probe. Nurse Lindsay tells Jalen’s parents that it will take about 2 weeks for the results to come back and that they will get the results at Jalen’s next appointment. Nurse Lindsay says, “That wasn’t so bad was it? See you at your next appointment.”