Gastroesophageal reflux, commonly referred to as acid reflux or chronic heartburn, occurs when acidic digestive juices from the stomach back up into the esophagus. Because the esophagus is an alkaline environment – and prefers it that way – this onslaught of acid can cause the uncomfortable or downright painful sensation of pressure, pain or burning in the esophagus stomach and/or chest area.
The American College of Gastroentrology believes that as many as 15 million Americans suffer from acid reflux on a daily basis. While some over-the-counter meds can provide relief, it is important that chronic acid reflux is diagnosed and treated in order to avoid the next level of complications. Chronic patients are eventually diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to more serious medical conditions such as esophageal disease and esophageal cancer.
Bravo pH Monitoring Provides Accurate Results About Acid Reflux & GERD
Bravo pH monitoring and testing is an effective way to diagnose acid reflux so you and your doctor can create a results-based treatment plan. When Mountain View Endoscopy Center patients come to us with complaints of heartburn, we often recommend the Bravo diagnostic test to track and monitor the pH levels of the esophagus over an extended time period.
Bravo uses innovative technology to measure pH levels over 24 to 48 hours. Your doctor will attach a small capsule (about the size of a typical gel cap) to the tissue on the interior esophagus wall. This procedure causes very minimal to zero discomfort and is completed in a matter of minutes.
Once the capsule is attached, you’ll be given a receiver, about the size of a pager, that should remain attached to a waistband belt, or very close to your body, for the duration of the test. Readings will continue to be transmitted as long as the receiver remains within three feet or less from the capsule. You are welcome to remove the receiver to bathe or sleep, as long as it stays within 3-feet of your person.
Over the course of the next day or two, the capsule will continually read the pH levels inside your esophagus and transmit those to the receiver where these measurements are recorded and stored. Eventually, the gel capsule with the pH monitor will dissolve and be evacuated by your digestion system so there is no need to have it removed.
NOTE: The Bravo pH test capsule is sealed using a small magnet. For this reason, you should not have an MRI for at least 30-days after the test is complete. This way you can be sure the capsule has dissolved and the magnet is fully purged from your body via your stool.
What Do I Do During the Bravo pH Test?
While it’s true that the capsule and receiver will be hard at work, you have a few responsibilities throughout the testing period as well.
First, patients must refrain from eating solids after midnight on the morning of the test start date. We ask that you only drink clear liquids from this point on. Red liquids and alcohol are off limits until the capsule is in place. On the day of the test, you must stop drinking all liquids six hours prior to the insertion of the Bravo pH capsule.
Once the capsule is secured, we ask that you:
- Use the appropriate button on the receiver whenever you experience heartburn, regurgitation or chest pain.
- Record your eating and sleeping patterns for the duration of the testing period
- Go about your normal daily routine as if nothing is different.
- Keep that transmitter within 3-feet of your body so we can track the data accurately.
Once your test period is over, you’ll return the receiver to Mountain View Endoscopy Center where we’ll plug the receiver in to upload the readings.
The data is entered into a Bravo-specific software system, where the doctor will determine whether or not you have acid reflux, and how severe the reflux is. This information will assist him in coming up with a treatment plan that is no more and no less than you need.
Are There Risks to Having a Bravo pH Test?
In most cases, this is a completely safe test with minimal risk of complications. Your doctor screen you carefully and review your medical records to ensure you are a good candidate for the test.
Some patients claim that they can feel a slight sensation of something in their throat, especially when they are eating or drinking. Therefore, we very recommend that you remain conscious about chewing your food completely before swallowing, and that you sip your liquids as opposed to gulping them, which can help to minimize those sensations.
Bravo is not recommended for those who have a history of bleeding or who have a:
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator
- History of esophageal narrowing
- History of severe esophageal limitations
The most common complication associated with Bravo is some form of discomfort associated with the capsule. Once in a great while, the capsule dislodges before it was supposed to, in which case we can simply reattach it.
In very rare but more serious cases, complications of this pH test include:
- Tears in the esophagus that could cause bleeding and potential medical intervention
Certain Medications Can Affect the Results of the Test
Complications and erroneous test results can occur as the result of certain medications. Please bring a current and accurate list of your prescription medications along with a list of supplements and over-the-counter medications to Mountain Valley Endoscopy Center for your initial Bravo pH consultation.
That way, we can advise you about any changes that will need to occur in before the test date. In some cases, patients need to refrain from taking medications as long as a week prior to the test, others may need to be discontinued a day or two prior to the test start date.
Are you ready to get your acid reflux under control once and for all? Contact the Mountain View Endoscopy Center to schedule a consultation and see if this diagnostic tool is the next move in getting you the treatment you need to eat well and without discomfort. It can be a life changer.