Heartburn or pyrosis is a painful or burning sensation in the esophagus, just below the breastbone caused by regurgitation of gastric acid. The pain often rises in the chest and may radiate to the neck, throat, or angle of the jaw. Heartburn is also identified as one of the causes of asthma and chronic cough.
Physicians normally diagnose gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) based on symptoms alone. When the clinical presentation is uncertain, other tests can be performed to confirm the diagnosis or exclude other disorders. Confirmatory tests include:
Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Series: A series of x-rays of the upper digestive system are taken after drinking a barium solution. These can demonstrate reflux of barium into the esophagus, which suggests the possibility of gastro esophageal reflux disease. More accurately, fluoroscopy can be used to document reflux in real-time.
Ambulatory pH Monitoring: A probe can be placed via the nose into the esophagus to record the level of acidity in the lower esophagus. Because some degree of variation in acidity is normal, and small reflux events are relatively common, such monitors must...