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Wireless capsule pH monitoring is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and evaluate the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the effectiveness of GERD treatment.

The procedure, which is performed while the patient is under sedation, uses an endoscope (a narrow tube with a camera) to clip a small capsule (the size of a pencil eraser or less) to the esophagus’ bottom section.

The transmitter transfers the data to a recording device one wears on a belt, and the sensor probe in the capsule measures and records the acid levels (pH) at the target location over time. The doctor then downloads this data and uses it to assess the severity of the reflux.

Preparation for Wireless Esophageal pH Test

Prior to the procedure, the doctor will provide instructions to be followed before the test is done.

The patient might need to temporarily stop using medication that suppresses stomach acid for about a week prior to the test. On the other hand, in order for the test to determine how well the patient’s medications are functioning, the doctor may advise him/her to continue taking them.

The patient should remember to inform the doctor of any allergies such as nickel allergy since the capsule contains a small amount of nickel.

The patient should also plan for someone to drive him/her home following the surgery since anesthesia is involved.

During the Procedure

  • An IV is inserted into the patient’s vein to administer fluids, and anesthesia. Once the anesthesia kicks in, the doctor passes an endoscope through the mouth and into the esophagus.
  • A wireless capsule-equipped catheter is inserted through the mouth, clipped to the lining of the esophagus, and then withdrawn.
  • Upon recovery from sedation and the doctor confirms the patient is ok, he/she can be driven home.
  • For up to 96 hours, the capsule collects data from the esophagus. The sensor measures the amount of acid in the esophagus and sends data to the recorder of the patient on the belt.
  • An individual can go about their daily activities as usual. However, he/she will be asked to track his/her meals, period of lying down, and symptoms by pushing buttons on the recording device and noting the activities in a special diary issued by the provider.
  • The recorder will be returned to the doctor who will download and interpret the results.

Note:

  • Wireless esophageal pH monitoring is not permitted for those who have pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, or neurostimulators.
  • One must avoid having an MRI during the test and for 30 days after.

Possible Complications of Wireless capsule pH monitoring test

The procedure is considered fairly safe. However, in some individuals, the capsule device may cause discomfort while swallowing food and in rare cases, chest pain.

There are, however, a group of patients for whom the test may pose other risks. The doctor may recommend a different diagnostic test in case of the following:

  • History of bleeding
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Esophageal varices (enlarged blood vessels)
  • Inflammation, esophageal narrowing, or another type of obstruction
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