Three pH electrodes in clinical use were examined--(1) antimony electrode with remote reference electrode (Synectics 0011), (2) glass electrode with remote reference electrode (Microelectrodes Inc. MI 506) and (3) combined glass electrode with integral reference electrode (Radiometer GK2801C). In vitro studies showed that both glass electrodes were similar and superior to the antimony electrode with respect to response time, drift, and sensitivity. The effect of the siting of the reference electrode on the recorded pH was examined in five human volunteers. The pH reading using a remote skin reference electrode was higher by a mean of 0.3 pH units (range 0.0-0.6) in the stomach, lower by 0.65 pH units (0.5-0.8) in the duodenum and lower by 0.3 pH units (0.0-0.6) in the oesophagus than that simultaneously obtained with an intraluminal reference electrode. Buccal reference electrodes gave similar readings to skin. Combined reference and glass pH electrodes are recommended for 24-hour ambulatory pH monitoring.
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