Esophageal Function Studies

What are Esophageal Function Studies

Esophageal function studies are tests that measure how well the esophagus is working. The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

When the esophagus is working properly, it moves food and liquid smoothly into the stomach and keeps it from coming back up into the mouth. It also keeps stomach juices from flowing out of the stomach into the esophagus (reflux).

Esophageal function studies are often ordered when a person has symptoms that suggest that the esophagus is not working properly, such as:

  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia).
  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain with reflux.
  • Choking.
  • A sore throat.
  • Coughing.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • The possibility of pregnancy.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Sore throat.
  • Nosebleed.
  • Pneumonia from esophageal fluid that gets into your windpipe and lungs (aspiration pneumonia).
  • A hole (perforation) in the esophagus. (This is rare.)

What happens before the procedure?

  • Ask your health care provider about:
    • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
    • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood.Do nottake these medicines before your procedure if your health care provider instructs you not to.
  • Follow your health care provider’s instructions about eating or drinking restrictions.

What happens during the procedure?

  • A numbing medicine (local anesthetic) will be applied or sprayed inside your nose and down your throat.
  • A long, thin, pressure-sensing tube will be put through your nose and down into your esophagus. You will be asked to swallow as the tube goes in.
  • Pressure measurements will be taken in different parts of your esophagus.
  • You will be given some fluid to swallow and be asked to change your position a few times during the procedure.
  • Another small tube will be passed through your nose into your esophagus to measure pH.
  • An acid solution will be put into the tube to see if it causes you to feel discomfort.
  • Acid samples will be taken.
  • The acid level and the length of time that it takes to clear the acid from your esophagus will be measured.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Keep all follow-up visits as directed by your health care provider. This is important.
  • Let your health care provider know if you have:
    • Bleeding from your nose.
    • An ongoing (persistent) sore throat or coughing.
    • Chest pain.
    • A fever.
    • Trouble swallowing.
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