Measuring Acid: pH Probe Options for Infants and Children

by Jan Gambino Patient Expert

A doctor may need to measure the acid in the esophagus and stomach as part of his or her assessment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). While the pH probe is the most common test used, there are other options available for some infants and children. You and the doctor will need to discuss the reason for testing and which option is best for your infant or child.

Most of the time, a baby or child with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease will visit the doctor, receive treatment and have a significant decrease in symptoms. A few more will go back and forth to the doctor a few times to adjust the treatments until the reflux responds to treatment. While there are tests available for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, most infants and children are treated successfully without any testing at all.

There may be special situations when measuring the acid is important. You will need to discuss your child's symptoms and circumstances with the doctor to determine if testing will provide the information needed. If testing is needed, you doctor may recommend one of the following:

pH Probe

The pH Probe is the standard type of probe use and it is widely available. A small, flexible tube is inserted through the nose, throat and down the esophagus to the top of the stomach. A small machine is attached to the probe and records the acid. The tube is kept in place for approximately 24 hours. The standard pH probe is used for all ages from infants to adults.

Bravo pH Probe

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Bravo pH Probe for ages 4 years and up. The Bravo probe is a small capsule that is placed on the wall of the esophagus while the child is sedated, often during an endoscopy. The capsule records data for approximately 48 hours and then it loosens on its own and goes through the digestive system and is expelled.

Restech Dx-pH Measurement System

The Restech Dx pH Probe measures pH levels in the airway to detect laryngeal and pharyngeal reflux in infants to adults. A small flexible tube rests behind the nasal area in the soft palate. It stays in place for 24-48 hours and utilizes a wireless transmitter to measure acidic and alkaline reflux.

Note: Not every hospital and clinic has every type of pH probe available. Your doctor can explain the options available and which test is best for your baby or child.

Jan Gambino
Meet Our Writer
Jan Gambino

Jan wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Acid Reflux.