Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, also referred to as GERD, affects a good number of individuals of different ages in the UK. In some cases of GERD, the symptoms can hardly be felt, although there are some individuals which may experience more severe symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease which may warrant further treatment (above and beyond over-the-counter medications, that is).
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with GERD (such as persistent heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain, coughing, and voice hoarseness) and if you feel that you may have GERD, there are different ways of diagnosing it aside from assessing the symptoms alone. These diagnostic tests are also often done so that the GP or specialist can rule out other medical conditions which may be causing your symptoms, assess the level of damage to your gastro-oesophageal system, or even find out the best type of treatment for your GERD.
Diagnostic tests for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
- Oesophageal pH monitoring or testing
The first diagnostic test for GERD is oesophageal pH monitoring. In a pH monitoring test, the specialist will simply measure the amount of oesophageal acid (acid in the patient’s oesophagus) over a period of 24 to 48 hours. The main purpose of the pH monitoring test is basically to rule out gastro-oesophageal reflux disease if the symptoms are not usual for acid reflux. Another reason why the pH monitoring test is undertaken is due to its usefulness when it comes to assessing if a patient of GERD needs surgery or not. With pH monitoring, the patient is ambulatory – meaning they can still move around and undertake all their usual tasks, since they will simply be given a capsule which will also be spontaneously passed.
Gastroscopy is another diagnostic test used for GERD. With gastroscopy, the specialist uses a flexible telescope or tube equipped with a camera at its end. This tube or telescope is then passed through the patient’s throat and into their oesophagus, where the specialist will be able to see and examine their oesophagus for any inflammation or stricture (a stricture is a change in the oesophagus’ lining). With gastroscopy, the specialist will also be able to determine if the changes or strictures have the chance of progressing to cancer, or Barrett’s Oesophagus.
Gastroscopy is not often done, however, if the patient’s symptoms of GERD are not serious or are mild. If the patient’s symptoms are more serious or severe or have gone on for a long time, then the GP may call for gastroscopy. Gastroscopy may also be suggested if a patient’s symptoms are not responding to treatments such as medications and even changes in their lifestyle.
Manometry is another diagnostic test for GERD which is used for identifying issues regarding the pressure of the valves in a patient’s oesophagus as well as motility. Manometry uses small receivers or transducers which are then inserted into a tube or catheter that is placed inside the patient’s oesophagus with the aim of measuring pressure. With manometry, the specialist can measure the functionality of the patient’s lower oesophageal valve. Manometry can also be used to gauge if a patient is in need of surgery for their GERD.
When it comes to the proper treatment of GERD, whether you need anti reflux surgery in London or not, you should always make it a point to trust only in the experts with years of experience. The London Surgical Group is comprised of such specialists who also offer gallstone surgery London and a host of other special laparoscopic and surgical procedures.