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pH-Probe Monitor Test

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What is a pH-probe monitor test?

A pH-probe monitor test is done to help your child's doctor know how often your child has reflux and whether his or her symptoms are related to reflux. The probe is a very small tube, which is placed through the nostril, down the throat, into the lowest part of the esophagus. It stays in place for 16-24 hours. It is attached to a small machine that records the pH of the fluid in the esophagus. The pH value tells you how much acid is in the fluid and helps determine the degree of reflux you child is experiencing, if any. 

What to expect during the test:

Your child cannot eat or drink for 4 hours before the probe is put in (Note: This may be longer if he/she is having the pH/impedance tube placed at the same time as an upper endoscopy). Hold any medications, as instructed by your doctor, especially acid suppression drugs. A nurse will put the probe in and tape it to your child's face to keep it from coming out. An x-ray will be taken to check that the probe is in the right spot. You may go with your child to the x-ray department. You will be given a record sheet and taught how to fill it out. This is very important as this will help the gastroenterologist reviewing the results to see if there is any correlation between symptoms and reflux. Your child may then go back to the room where he/she can eat and play.

Sometimes the probe is inserted during another procedure (EGD). During an EGD the doctor will pass a special tube with a light on the end of it into the throat and beyond. This is done in the operating room with special medicine to help your child sleep.

Bravo pH Study: A wireless pH probe may be used for older larger children (about 7 years old and 70 pounds). It is a capsule shaped device about 3 cm long. It is “pinned” to the lining of the esophagus during an EGD. It sends a signal to a recording device for 48 hours. After that, the capsule separates from the esophagus by itself and passes out of the body through the digestive system.

Keeping the record:

Again, it is very important that you and the nurses keep the record sheet of your child's activities and symptoms. Please record the events based on the time on the digitrapper only. On this sheet you will record the following:

  • The times your child starts and stops eating or drinking.
  • The times your child cries, vomits, acts fussy, takes medicine, has pain or the breathing/heart rate monitor goes off.
  • When your child is asleep in a lying position or awake.  


Good test results depend on the record sheet being filled out completely. It is important for your child's activities to be as normal as possible.

Please make sure the leads stay attached to your child and plugged into the box. If they come loose, tell the nurse right away.

If you have any questions, please ask your child's nurse.

Reinforce the tape as needed. Your nurse will provide you with extra tape.

There are not necessarily any dietary restrictions during the study, but it's best to avoid an excessive amount of foods that can cause a significant amount of reflux such as acidic, spicy, greasy foods, coffee, caffeine and even chocolate.

    Take any precautions necessary to prevent your child from pulling out or playing with the pH probe. If the MD deems necessary, you will be given elbow restraints to prevent your child from pulling at the pH probe.

    Call 668-7240 if the patient vomits or pulls out the pH probe or if you have any concerns.  

    You will be given instructions on where to bring your child and pH/impedance probe the next day after it is placed so that it can be removed.

    After the test:

    The test results are usually ready in a few days. Your child's doctor or nurse will tell you how to get the results. 

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

    Reviewed: 01/2018

    (757) 668-7000