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What Is a Complete Esophageal Workup?

Your esophagus connects your throat to your stomach. Muscular and tube-shaped, your esophagus contracts when you swallow, pushing your food down into your stomach for digestion.

Esophageal issues, like esophageal motility disorders or esophageal cancer, can cause serious complications for your long-term digestive health. That’s why a complete esophageal workup can be so essential.

The experts at the Center for Advanced Surgery, led by Marc Ward, MD, and Steven Leeds, MD, can recommend diagnostic exams including esophageal manometry, upper endoscopy, esophagram testing, and pH testing if you have symptoms that could indicate an esophageal disorder.

Your provider at the Center for Advanced Surgery can help you understand your test results, and recommend the best treatment options for you at an appointment following your esophageal workup.

Checking your pH

The acid levels in your esophagus can give us important information about your digestive health. The team at the Center for Advanced Surgery uses esophageal pH monitoring to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and check on the effectiveness of anti-acid reflux treatment.

During pH testing, you live your life regularly, while wearing sensors that check for stomach acid in your esophagus. PH testing can be done in several different ways. We can recommend the right treatment method for your unique health care needs. 

You may need to discontinue medications before your exam appointment. Check with your provider about how you should prepare.

Esophageal manometry

Our goal with esophageal manometry is to learn more about the journey your food takes through your esophagus and into your stomach. Do the muscles in the sphincters at the top and bottom of your esophageal passage function correctly? How strongly and rapidly does your esophagus contract to move food toward your stomach for digestion?

Your provider uses a small, flexible catheter containing multiple pressure sensors to check your esophagus. The catheter is inserted through your nose and down your esophagus to your stomach. You can sit up while the catheter is inserted, and you may be asked to lie on your back during the exam.

For the exam, you’ll need to take a few small sips of water, so your provider can measure the action of your esophagus when you swallow. Your test should take only about half an hour to complete, and your results will be available within days.

We minimize your discomfort, including spraying your throat with numbing medication or using numbing gel on your nose, but you might deal with some gagging, or experience watering eyes during the exam. You might have a stuffy nose or a sore throat for a few hours following your appointment.

Upper endoscopy

In an upper endoscopy, your provider at the Center for Advanced Surgery uses a similar long, flexible tube to that used in an esophageal manometry exam. However, this tube has a small camera attached to the end.

We can use the camera to view your upper digestive system, checking for narrowing, blockages, and other abnormalities. Specialized surgical tools can also allow your provider to collect tissue samples during this exam.

You lie on your back or your side during your endoscopy exam. You may need to swallow to help the scope pass down your throat. Anesthetic medication keeps you from feeling pain, but you might experience a sensation of pressure. 

You won’t be able to speak during the exam itself, but your breathing won’t be affected.

You need to fast, avoiding food, drink, and blood-thinning medications, before your exam appointment. After the exam, most patients experience only mild side effects like sore throat or bloating and gas. We can use a sedative to keep you calm for this exam. Endoscopies typically take less than half an hour to complete.

Esophagram testing

If you need an esophagram, also known as upper gastrointestinal tract radiography or upper GI, we use real-time X-ray technology to create accurate images of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine.

With this noninvasive testing method, we can check for acid reflux and other symptoms of digestive trouble. Here’s how fluoroscopy works. You swallow a contrast material based on the chemical barium, producing images of your digestive tract when viewed under specialized lighting.

For an esophagram, plan on fasting before your appointment, including avoiding food, beverages, oral medications, and even chewing gum. Your provider can advise you on the right timing to have you properly prepared for your exam appointment.

If you’re in the Dallas, Plano, and Tyler, Texas, areas and have concerns about esophageal conditions like achalasia, esophageal spasm, or eosinophilic esophagitis, or if you notice issues with your ability to swallow your food and keep it down, get in touch with the gastroesophageal experts at the Center for Advanced Surgery today.

Call now or go online to book your appointment.

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