What is GERD?
Some acid reflux into the esophagus is normal, but too much can lead to symptoms as well as damage to the esophagus. Abnormally high acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
If your healthcare provider thinks you might have GERD, they might ask you to have a Bravo test. People who are diagnosed with GERD often experience:
- Chest pain
- Sore throat or hoarse voice
What is Bravo Esophageal pH Testing?
The Bravo pH test measures the pH level of the esophagus. The pH level will tell whether a substance is basic or acidic. In some cases, stomach acid splashes up into the esophagus (reflux), which can increase the esophageal acidity level. When reflux regularly occurs, it can cause permanent damage to the esophagus. This test is used to see how often reflux is occurring, and how much acid the reflux contains.
If your doctor suspects that you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), he or she may wish for you to have a Bravo pH test.
How is Bravo Esophageal pH Testing Performed?
The Bravo test measures the pH level of your esophagus. The pH level of a substance indicates whether something is basic or acidic. During an upper endoscopy (EGD), a small pH capsule device will be attached to the lower part of your esophagus. The device is approximately the size of a pencil eraser. You will wear a pager-sized receiver around your waist for 48 – 96 hours. The capsule transmits information to that receiver about the acid exposure it is sensing. During the study, you will be given a diary to write down the times that you experience symptoms as well as when you eat or lie down. The capsule will remain in place for about five to seven days. It then will fall off and pass through your digestive tract, and you don’t need to retrieve the capsule.
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When do I need to have a Bravo Esophageal pH Test?
Not all patients with GERD need to have a Bravo test. But for some patients, knowing if and when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus can help your provider treat your symptoms. Your provider will be able to use this information to decide if your symptoms are related to GERD, and better help you to achieve the improvement you are hoping for.
The Bravo capsule contains a trocar needle that is made of stainless steel. If you have known sensitivities or allergies to chromium, nickel, copper, cobalt, and iron, you may not be able to have this test. Please call your provider to discuss other options.
Following Bravo Esophageal pH Testing
Following your procedure, you will wait in the recovery unit until your sedation has worn off. You may then return home, but you must be driven by someone else. You will be sent home with your recording receiver and your diary. Be sure to fill out your diary per your doctor’s instructions. You will then return the diary and receiver after a couple of days. The capsule in your esophagus will fall off on its own after a few weeks and pass harmlessly through your stool. Your doctor will follow up with you regarding the results of your test.
How Do I Prepare for My Procedure?
There are some steps that you must take to prepare for your Bravo esophageal pH testing. Your doctor will provide you with these specific instructions. However, they may be similar to the following:
- One week before your test, you should stop taking proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole (Prilosec®).
- Two days before your test, you should stop taking H2 blockers such as ranitidine (Zantac®)
- Six hours before your test, do not take any antacids such as Alka-Seltzer® or Tums®.
- Four to six hours before your test, do not consume any food or drink.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Bravo Esophageal pH Testing or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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