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 September 29, 2003
House & Home
Yellow Pages
New Convenient Device Helps Diagnose Reflux Disease
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It's commonly known as heartburn and it affects more than 75 million Americans.  It can be a dangerous problem but, for some, diagnosing it can be uncomfortable and inconvenient.  Not anymore, thanks to a new diagnostic device being used at Rhode Island Hospital.

For Ray Brown, living with acid reflux meant living in pain nearly every day.

"I constantly had the reflux with heartburns" says Ray.

Ph monitoring can usually offer doctors a specific diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease. or GERD. Ph testing monitors stomach acids that can wash back into the esophagus, causing GERD. Usually people like Ray would have had to undergo a traditional pH monitoring test which requires patients to spend 24 hours with a catheter running through the nose and down to the esophagus and with wires running to an external recording device.

"The catheter, I could actually feel it inside me.  Whenever I would turn my head slightly, I would feel the urge to gag," says Ray.

But a new device called the Bravo pH capsule is offering GERD patients a more comfortable and convenient option.

"It's a dramatic, dramatic improvement," says Dr. Harlan Rich.

Dr. Rich is the Chief of Endoscopy at Rhode Island Hospital and he has been using the BRAVO device on patients since last fall.   The device contains a mini transmitter, or capsule.  The device is attached to the wall of the esophagus during an endoscopy procedure.  The capsule transmits the pH data to a pager-sized receiver worn by the patient.

"The patient can go about their normal activities. Eat normally, shower normally. Whatever else they want to do," says Dr. Rich.

After a few days, the capsule falls off the wall of the esophagus in a few days and naturally passes through the system all while patients, like Ray Brown barely even know its there.

"It doesn't restrict any activities. It's just wonderful."

For now, Rhode island hospital is the only medical center offering this type of testing. Patients with troubling symptoms should consult their physicians, who can refer them to Rhode Island Hospital for BRAVO pH tseting.

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