I’ve scheduled my first set of appointments with my surgeon and his office. Before meeting with him, I need to go through three diagnostic tests to test my level of acid reflux and if I’m a good candidate for surgery. The first tests I’ll need to take are the following:
- 24 Hour Esophageal Impedance pH test
- An electrode is inserted into your esophagus and remains there for 24 hours. During this time it measures how much acid exposure your esophagus gets and how long it stays in contact with your esophagus. It can also measure bile reflux. All of this information is communicated to a little device that sits on your belt loop and records the data for download in the doctor’s office.
- High Resolution Impedance Manometry
- This is primarily to test how well your swallowing muscles work and if you have any neuromuscular deficiencies in your esophagus.
- Barium Swallow
- In this test, you swallow a thick solution of very mildly radioactive sludge called Barium. Then you lay down flat and an X-Ray machine records images of the sludge as it travels down your esophagus and into your stomach. This provides a nice visual of how efficient your body is at swallowing and at keeping swallowed liquids in your stomach.
For the first two tests, I have to wean myself off of my reflux medication (PPIs – Nexium) at least 7 days in advance. This is a very scary prospect. These drugs are essential for me to function close to normalcy and get any relief whatsoever from GERD. I’m allowed to use another type of drug called H2′s (Zantac, Pepcid, etc.) up until two days beforehand as well, so hopefully this will help stifle the acid reflux while I’m waiting for the PPIs to wear off.
I know that this process is going to be very difficult, but I think it will be worth it when I have a good set of test results that can verify the nature of my GERD and what my options are for resolving it.