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Additional Tests for GERD

Clip Number: 8 of 12
Presentation: GERD
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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We'll now discuss some of the additional tests that can be used to diagnose GERD.
An upper GI series, also called a "barium swallow," is a special set of x-rays that are taken after you drink a thick liquid containing barium, which coats the inside of your esophagus and stomach. These x-rays can help your doctor see damage to the lining of your esophagus. Because the symptoms of stomach ulcers can be similar to those of esophageal ulcers, this x-ray set helps your doctor to determine which type of ulcer, if any, is causing your symptoms.
Another common test is called "endoscopy." Endoscopy is a procedure where a small flexible tube is inserted through your mouth and into your esophagus. This tube also has a camera attached to it, so your doctor can look for problems in your esophagus and stomach. A biopsy, or small piece of tissue, may be removed for further study if anything is found that doesn't look normal. A tissue sample may also help your doctor determine how severe your GERD is.
A test called "esophageal manometry" can be done to see if the contractions of your esophagus are especially weak. This is done by inserting a small flexible tube into your throat to monitor peristalsis, and to check the strength of the lower esophageal sphincter. If the sphincter and/or peristalsis are found to be weak, it may explain why you are having symptoms.
Also, an esophageal pH test may be done in order to confirm your diagnosis, and measure the amount of acid reflux into your esophagus at different times during the day. This can be used, for example, to see if acid reflux only happens when you are lying down, or at night after you go to bed.
All of these tests, as well as a few others we haven't described, help your doctor find the cause of your heartburn symptoms, and the best way to treat them.

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