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Diagnosing GERD

Because symptoms of other conditions can mimic GERD symptoms, it is important to complete a series of specialized tests to confirm a diagnosis of GERD. At our Heartburn Solutions Center, we use a variety of state-of-the-art diagnostic tests to definitively diagnose GERD:

  • Upper Endoscopy – Your physician will use this procedure to evaluate the condition of the tissue in your esophagus and stomach. While you are sedated, your physician will use a slender scope to take pictures and biopsies (small tissue samples) of these areas as necessary. This study allows your doctor to see any areas of inflammation or irritation, and helps the doctor rule out many other conditions. 
  • Esophageal Manometry – This procedure is used to gauge the ability of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to effectively move food towards the stomach. The test measures the pressure in your esophagus as you swallow, which allows your doctor to detect any abnormalities. Manometry is a required test if surgery is being considered as a treatment option. 
  • Ambulatory pH Study – This study involves recording actual levels of acid (pH) in the esophagus while you are at home and carrying out your daily activities. During this test, a small sensor is placed in the esophagus. Once in place, the sensor measures pH levels over a 24-48 hour period. Once completed, the test shows the effect that meals, activities and sleep have on the pH levels in the esophagus and accurately establishes whether or not GERD is the cause of your symptoms. 
  • Barium Swallow – A barium swallow is an X-ray examination of the esophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. Sometimes called a GI series, this procedure requires you to drink a contrast medium called barium, which coats the intestinal tract and makes it possible to see the anatomy on X-rays. A barium swallow helps the medical team identify hiatal hernias, tumors or areas of inflammation of the esophagus and stomach.
  • Bravo pH – Bravo pH monitoring is a capsule-based, patient-friendly test for identifying the presence of acid reflux. Information is collected over multiple days, which allows your doctor to evaluate reflux symptoms by determining the frequency and duration of acid flowing back up into the esophagus.

Each patient will receive a complete assessment and evaluation of the esophagus to find out if there has been any damage and if there is any risk of cancer. As a result, a definitive diagnosis will be given, as well as a clearly explained plan of care. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes and medication, as well as minimally invasive surgery. In addition, follow-up appointments with the physician or Nurse Navigator will assure each patient’s continued relief from GERD symptoms. Call 404.501.RFLX (7359) for more information.

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Emory Decatur Hospital
Heartburn Solutions Center

2701 North Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033


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