Local News

Computer Capsule Makes Acid Reflux Test Easier To Swallow

Posted September 22, 2003

— Heartburn medications have been getting a lot of attention lately. The medications do not work for everyone.

Sometimes the burning is a sign of a more serious problem.

Raleigh Community Hospital is one of the first in the Triangle to offer a patient-friendly test for acid reflux. The new alternative is easier for patients to swallow.

A tiny computer capsule has revolutionized Ph testing. Before the computer capsule, patients had to wear a catheter through their nose and down their throat for 24 hours.

"You certainly lose a lot of patients that way," said Dr. Kenneth Kohagen of Raleigh Community Hospital.

With the new capsule, a catheter is not needed. Doctors use an endoscope to place the capsule in the esophagus. The capsule sends information to a device which patients wear on their waist.

"That information, along with a diary that's kept by the patient, is put into a computer to see if, indeed, reflux is a problem," Kohagen said.

For the past six months, everything Mary Moore Ritchie eats has made her sick. Desperate to find out what is wrong, doctors are testing pH levels in Ritchies' esophagus to see if acid reflux is the culprit.

During the 5-minute procedure, Kohagen found a small hernia in Ritchie's esophagus.

"She's got a hiatal hernia, so reflux is certainly a possibility," he said.

The test will tell for sure, and then hopefully Ritchie will finally find relief.

People with chronic heartburn that is not helped with medications should consider pH testing. Patients are sedated during the procedure and go home a few hours later.


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