Newswise — Scott & White Hospital – Round Rock, a hospital within Baylor Scott & White Health, is offering a diagnostic test to detect acid reflux in the throat. The near epidemic increase in the U.S. incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD) has led to the need for acid reflux screening.
“This test allows us to measure acid levels in a patient’s throat and to correlate these levels with a patient’s symptoms,” said F. P. (Tripp) Buckley III, MD, a general surgeon and surgical director of the Heartburn and Acid Reflux Center at Scott & White Hospital- Round Rock. “The system improves treatment and we’re now able to determine when and how much acid reaches the throat. This leads to better care for our patients with throat and voice difficulties.”
Symptoms of LPRD can range from repetitive throat clearing and/or cough, hoarseness, sore throat, post nasal drip, ear discomfort, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty breathing. Furthermore, most patients with symptoms of LPRD deny symptomatic heartburn (or GERD).
“Previously, it was difficult to detect reflux in the upper airway because most available testing at the time only measured liquid reflux in the esophagus and not the aerosolized form of stomach acid found often in the larynx and throat,” said Nimish Patel, MD, ENT, Scott & White – Round Rock.
“This test is an easier, more comfortable and reliable procedure for patients that measures acid levels in the upper airway,” said Dr. Patel.
Patients with LPRD are often first diagnosed by an ear, nose and throat specialist or speech pathologist for throat irritation or voice difficulties. If an initial examination indicates voice pathology, the test can be used to determine whether acid is refluxing into the larynx.
“If acid reflux is present, a drug treatment plan can be prescribed. And if no acid is detected in the upper airway, a different cause for symptoms can then be investigated,” explained Dr. Buckley. “Unfortunately, LPRD is notoriously difficult to treat, but there are outpatient surgical procedures that can lead to its cure,” said Dr. Buckley who is one of the lead investigators on a new trial looking at the surgical correction of LPRD with the LINX procedure.
Gastric reflux in the upper airway, or LPRD, commonly takes a form that cannot easily be measured using conventional technology. The pH sensor at the tip of the testing probe is the only sensor able to measure pH in this area of the body.
The Heartburn and Acid Reflux Center at Scott & White Round Rock offers a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis and treatment of acid reflux, combining skilled physicians and advanced technology. For more information, call 512-509-GERD or visit heartburn.sw.org.