Heartburn that occurs repeatedly should be evaluated by a doctor to determine what's causing the problem. There are specific diagnostic tests the doctor will use to determine if your heartburn is something more serious, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Only a small percentage of patients will need the tests described below. The majority of doctors will prescribe a trial of acid-suppressive therapy, and make a diagnosis based on the patient's response to this.
If a doctor decides to order a diagnostic test, it may be one of the procedures below.
Barium x-rays are diagnostic x-rays in which barium is used to diagnose abnormalities of the digestive tract. What can you expect if your doctor orders this test for you?
The upper endoscopy test allows a doctor to examine the inside of a patient's esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) with an instrument called an endoscope, a thin flexible lighted tube. What can you expect if your doctor orders this test for you?
If your doctor suspects you have GERD, he or she may use a pH test. It can measure the amount of stomach acid backing up into the esophagus. What can you expect if your doctor orders this test for you?