Here we will discuss the diagnostic test of GERD that will help you to determine the problem. This GERD test is mainly based on the symptoms, the doctor feels fairly certain that you do have GERD, and then he may decide to treat the problem with medication and lifestyle recommendations and see if you improve. Alternatively, he may also decide that it would be better to do some GERD diagnostic test, first to increase the level of certainty about the diagnosis.
In general, if you report classic GERD symptoms such as heartburn, the doctor will make lifestyle changes recommendations and may also prescribe medication. Conversely, if your symptoms are considered atypical, such as unexplained chest pain, chronic hoarseness, asthma, or others, then he may choose to order an endoscopy or another diagnostic test to obtain more information.
If the symptoms are considered “alarm symptoms” such as recurrent vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, unusual weight loss, or difficulty in swallowing, the usually a diagnostic test will be ordered quickly. In such cases, the endoscopy is generally considered quickly. In such cases, the endoscopy is generally considered necessary.
Some GERD diagnostic tests the doctors may recommend includes: –
- Radiological tests
- Ambulatory esophageal pH monitoring test
- Esophageal manometry
- Bernstein test
Now let’s have a detailed study on the following test which tells us how to diagnose GERD: –
Radiologie tests: –
Noninvasive X-ray testing, also known as the “barium swallow” or “upper GI series,” may reveal abnormalities such as GERD. In this procedure, you drink a glass of fluid containing barium, which is a contrast material. When the doctor uses a fluoroscope, the barium looks black as it goes down your esophagus. On the X-rays (which provide a ‘hard copy’ that can be viewed and filed away in a permanent record) the barium appears white.
Most physicians do a single-contrast evaluation, but it is also possible to use a double-contrast to evaluate the mucosal structure of the upper digestive system. This radiologic test indicates any unusual trouble with swallowing or any narrowing of the esophagus. It can even detect problems like hiatal hernia.
The barium swallow is relatively inexpensive and requires little or no preparation, and the patient is fully awake and aware. She can drive herself to the clinic and back home again in safety.
A disadvantage of this test is that the barium swallow is less effective at diagnosing GERD itself. However, it is good for detecting dysphagia (trouble swallowing). Sometimes you will be asked to swallow a barium pill along with the liquid barium; its path going down will be tracked as the doctor looks for any narrowing. A disadvantage to radiologic testing is that the physician can’t do a biopsy if he sees something suspicious. For that, the physician needs an endoscope.
The endoscopy is a special device that is passed down the throat and into the esophagus. If imagining this makes you feel like gagging, don’t worry: patients are usually medicated during the procedure. Endoscopy is an outpatient procedure and is usually performed in a hospital or outpatient surgery center. Indeed, you will need someone to drive you home afterward.
The endoscope allows the gastroenterologist to look inside the throat, esophagus, and stomach; it also enables him to do a tissue biopsy if there is any suspicion of Barrett’s esophagus or cancer. A key advantage of this test is the doctor can see whether there is any damage to the mucosal layer of the esophagus or stomach. Another advantage with endoscopy is that the doctor can remove polyps, take biopsy samples, and take other such actions.
Doctors recommend endoscopy for patients with: –
- Weight loss or bleeding
- Unresponsiveness to therapy
- Reflux symptoms for five years or more
Upper endoscopy or EDG Esophagogastroduodenoscopy
This test is recommended if your doctor feels the need to assess the upper digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine. The doctor will discuss the test with you and why it is needed, as well as the risks, benefits, complications, and alternatives to the test. In some cases, your physician may ask another physician to perform the test. In such a case, you may see the performing physician for the first time just before you undergo the test. A discussion will then place with this physician.
Ambulatory pH monitoring test
The term pH refers to acidity or alkalinity. In this case, what’s most important is the acidity level of your esophagus. The number most doctors think is good for GERD is acidity level of 4 or more in the esophagus. The pH test will provide proof if the disease is present.
Esophageal manometry is a test that is performed by inserting a special catheter that measures pressure in the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter. It is a very useful test to do on patients before GERD treatment.
A variety of other tests are available to the gastroenterologist who is seeking to diagnose a patient, although the most commonly used tests have already been discussed. One additional option that some doctors may still use is the Bernstein test, a procedure that is used specifically to diagnose the sensitivity of your esophagus to acid.