Antimony electrodes. Mucosal potential differences and buffer composition adversely affect pH measurements in the stomach

Dig Dis Sci. 1990 Aug;35(8):950-5. doi: 10.1007/BF01537242.


Antimony electrodes are clinically useful because of their low cost and simple construction; they have no glass to break. There is only a few hundred ohms resistance between an antimony pH electrode and the reference electrode so that the voltage generated can be recorded with simple low-impedance recorders linked to microcomputers. We used antimony pH electrodes with silver-silver chloride electrodes applied to the skin to measure the gastric pH in vivo and obtained erroneously high values. Using an ion-permeable dialysis chamber to surround electrodes in vivo, we showed that the discrepancy was caused by interference from gastric transmucosal potential difference. To circumvent the interference, we used a combination electrode constructed by embedding a monocrystalline antimony electrode and a silver-silver chloride reference electrode in dental acrylic. Antimony pH electrodes calibrated with commercial pH buffers also gave erroneous readings in HCl solutions of known pH. The erroneous readings were due, in part, to organic complex-forming ligands or organic salts such as potassium phthalate present in commercial buffer solutions. Accurate pH calibration can be obtained with citrate or acetate buffers or by using a normogram to correct for the errors introduced with commercial buffers. The combination antimony pH electrode has a number of potential clinical and research applications and simplifies obtaining accurate and reliable pH data in vivo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antimony
  • Buffers
  • Calibration
  • Electrodes*
  • Equipment Design
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Gastric Acidity Determination / instrumentation*
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism
  • Gastric Mucosa / physiology*
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Silver
  • Silver Compounds*


  • Buffers
  • Silver Compounds
  • Silver
  • Antimony
  • silver chloride