Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. He or she will usually make an initial diagnosis of GERD based on your symptoms. In some cases, other tests will be done to confirm the diagnosis or exclude other disorders.
These tests may include:
Upper GI Series
– A series of x-rays of the upper digestive system are taken after drinking a barium solution.
24-hour pH Monitoring
– A probe is placed in the esophagus to keep track of the level of acidity in the lower esophagus. This is done over a 24-hour period.
– This test measures muscle pressures in the lower esophagus.
– A thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera attached is passed down the throat to examine the esophagus and stomach.
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– A small sample of tissue from the esophagus is removed. It is then studied to check for inflammation, cancer, or other problems.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2013.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Available at:
http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/esophageal_and_swallowing_disorders/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd.html. Updated May 2012. Accessed April 30, 2013.
Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
website. Available at:
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd. Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 30, 2013.
Katz PO, Gerson LB, et al. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108(3):302-328.
Understanding heartburn and reflux disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at:
http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/heartburn-gerd. Published April 25, 2010. Accessed April 30, 2010.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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