Acid-related tests are used to ascertain the effectiveness of acid-blocking drugs. All require nasogastric or nasoesophageal intubation. Complications are very rare. Patients must have nothing by mouth (npo) after midnight.
Ambulatory pH Monitoring
Ambulatory 24-h esophageal pH monitoring is currently the best available test for quantifying esophageal acid exposure. The principal indications are
A thin tube containing a pH probe is positioned 5 cm above the lower esophageal sphincter. The patient records symptoms, meals, and sleep for 24 h. Esophageal acid exposure is defined by the percentage of the 24-h recording time that the pH is < 4.0. Values > 3.5% are considered abnormal. However, symptoms may not correlate with acid exposure or the presence of esophagitis. This may be because symptoms may result from nonacidic as well as acidic refluxate. Multichannel intraluminal impedance testing allows for recognition of major acid, minor acid, nonacid, and gas reflux, all of which can cause reflux symptoms.
Samples of stomach contents obtained via NGT are used to measure gastric acid output in a basal and stimulated state. This information may be useful in a patient who develops a recurrent ulcer after surgical vagotomy for peptic ulcer disease. In this case, a positive acid response to stimulation (sham feeding) indicates an incomplete vagotomy. The test also is used to evaluate a patient with elevated serum gastrin levels. Hyperchlorhydria in the presence of elevated gastrin usually indicates Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Hypochlorhydria in the presence of elevated gastrin indicates impairment of acid output, such as occurs in pernicious anemia, atrophic gastritis, and Ménétrier's disease and after inhibition of gastric acid secretion by potent antisecretory drugs.
To do gastric analysis, an NGT is inserted and the gastric contents are aspirated and discarded. Gastric juice is then collected for 1 h, divided into four 15-min samples. These samples represent basal acid output.
Last full review/revision March 2009 by Norton J. Greenberger, MD