New Tool May Help to Detect Reflux in Children

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Scintigraphy may become the newest tool to detect acid reflux in children. Research from Pakistan shows scintigraphy to be highly effective at safely diagnosing reflux, while delivering smaller doses of radiation as compared to the more traditional barium x-ray test.


    Scintigraphy is a diagnostic test in which a 2 dimensional picture is obtained through detection of radiation emitted by a radioactive source given to the body (the patient is usually asked to drink a liquid which can be detected by the test).


    In early research, scintigraphy has proved more effective at detecting acid reflux than traditional barium x-rays. In one study, thirty-one children were examined for gastroesophageal reflux using both a barium x-ray and scintigraphy. The barium x-ray detected reflux in 17 of 27 children, whereas the scintigraphy was positive in 24 of 27 of the same cases. Put another way, the traditional barium x-ray method detected reflux in 63 percent of the children, while the newer method detected reflux in almost 90 percent of the same children.

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    Knowing about the different tests available to detect reflux is pretty technical stuff, and you are probably hoping you don't need to know too much about it. However, I hope from this SharePost you will take away the following two important points:


    1) Different acid reflux tests provide different results. After we wrote our book, many parents sent us notes of distress, telling us that their child had all the signs and symptoms of reflux, but the barium swallow test prescribed by their doctor had come back negative, and therefore the doctor would not treat the child for reflux. As you can see by at least one study, this older method of reflux detection was only accurate a little more than half of the time.


    2) It is imperative that if you suspect your infant or child has acid reflux, that you visit a health care provider who is up-to-date on the latest findings related to acid reflux. Scintigraphy is only one example of how new advances in technology may help children get the treatment they deserve more quickly. 


    For more information on the traditional diagnostic tools for acid reflux click here.

Published On: July 02, 2008