Pediatric pH Probe Study



A pH probe study measures the pH (amount of acidity) in the esophagus (food tube). The study helps determine whether or not acid is coming up from the stomach.

Expanded Overview

A pH probe study is usually done in patients:

  • if gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is suspected
  • to determine how effective treatment is while taking antacids
  • to help explain nighttime cough, hoarseness, or other complaints


How is the test performed?

A thin plastic tube with a sensor at the tip is placed into one nostril. It is moved into the esophagus. Inserting the a tube may cause your child to:

  • gag
  • sneeze
  • make their eyes tear

A chest x ray is taken to confirm the position of the tip of the probe. A wire is connected to a portable recorder. The recorder collects information from the probe. Your child can carry the recorder around for the rest of the study. The study lasts 18-24 hours.

What is allowed during the test?

Your child should continue with usual activities. A diary of symptoms such as

  • crying
  • coughing
  • chest pain
  • refusing to eat

This will help determine whether acidity in the esophagus is responsible for your child’s complaints. Carbonated drinks, such as soda, should be avoided.  

What happens after the test?

After 18-24 hours, the tube is removed. The information stored in the recorder is analyzed. Your child's provider will contact you to discuss the results and next steps.

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