Background: Standard pH monitoring is performed over 24 h with a naso-oesophageal catheter (C-pH). Limitations include naso-pharyngeal discomfort, nausea and social embarrassment resulting in reduced reflux-provoking activities. Recently a catheter-free pH-monitoring technique has become available. The tolerability and diagnostic yield of this system in patients who failed standard monitoring remain unknown.
Aim: To examine the tolerability and diagnostic outcome of catheter-free pH-monitoring technique in patients who failed standard monitoring.
Methods: Patients referred for C-pH and catheter-free pH monitoring completed a tolerability questionnaire. Acid exposure in the distal oesophagus and symptom index (SI) were reviewed.
Results: Over 4 years, 883/1751 (50%) of patients with typical reflux symptoms referred for C-pH were diagnosed with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) based on a pathological percentage time acid exposure (%time pH <4);134 (8%) patients failed C-pH and, of these, 129 successfully completed 2-day catheter-free pH monitoring. Ninety-eight (76%) of these patients had a pathological percentage pH <4 on either day compared with 49/102 (49%) of contemporaneous C-pH patients (P < 0.01). There was no difference in SI for heartburn (35% vs. 42%; P = 0.49). The questionnaire demonstrated a preference for catheter-free pH monitoring (96%) with less restriction in activities of daily living, naso-pharyngeal discomfort, dysphagia and chest pain.
Conclusions: Tolerance and satisfaction with catheter-free pH monitoring are high in patients who had previously failed C-pH; catheter-free pH monitoring assists the definitive diagnosis of GERD in this group.