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Reasons and Preparation For Esophagus Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Esophagus?

The esophagus is a tube that transfers the food that we eat to the stomach. An esophagus test is used to measure the muscle pressure, movement, coordination, and strength of the esophagus.

Reasons Why a Esophagus Test is Conducted

Esophagus tests are conducted in order to

  • Identify if a chest pain is caused due to a gastroesophageal reflex disease, also called GERD.
  • Monitor the effectiveness of a treatment to cure GERD.
  • Identify a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Identify a condition called dysphagia, which makes an individual feel as if the food is stuck after swallowing.
  • Detect motility problems that make it difficult for the food to move down to the stomach from the esophagus.

The two most well-known esophagus tests are the esophageal manometry test and esophageal pH monitoring. Both of these tests involve the insertion of a tube through the nose or mouth till it reaches the lower esophagus.

Preparation

There is some amount of preparation before either of these tests is performed.

  • The patient will be asked to refrain from consuming alcohol or smoking for at least 24 hours before the test.
  • The patient will be asked to refrain from eating or drinking anything for at least 8 to 12 hours before the test.
  • The doctor may give instructions that disallow you from consuming any antacid medication at least 24 hours before the test.

Esophageal pH Monitoring

Also called the esophageal acidity test, it is used to measure the amount of acid contained in the esophagus. A small tube that contains an acid pH-monitoring device is inserted into the esophagus through the nose or the mouth. The values of the acid pH is then monitored and recorded. Sometimes a long duration of pH monitoring is recommended. A wired or wireless device may be attached to the patient's body for these kinds of procedures. A pH value between 4 and 6 is considered to be normal. Any value that is consistently lesser than 4 indicates an abnormal condition, and may be attributed to GERD.

Esophageal Manometry

This procedure involves swallowing a small tube that contains sensors to measure the pressure in the various parts of the esophagus. The readings of the sensor are displayed in a graphical format for analysis. A normal esophageal manometry reading indicates that the pressure of the esophagus to move the food down is normal. An abnormal reading could mean that there are muscle spasms in the esophagus or that the contractions of the esophagus are weak. There are very few risks associated with esophagus tests.

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