The most reliable method of positioning a pH probe for oesophageal pH monitoring is to use manometry to determine the upper margin of the lower oesophageal sphincter and to place the probe 5 cm above this point. Manometry is expensive, however, requires special equipment and training, and is not widely available. An alternative cheaper way of determining the site of the lower oesophageal sphincter has been evaluated. A fine bore nasogastric tube with a latex balloon at its tip was inserted transnasally into the stomach. The balloon was inflated with 10 ml of water and the tube withdrawn until resistance was met. The distance from the nose (in cm) was noted and compared with the upper margin of the lower oesophageal sphincter as determined by oesophageal manometry. The manometric distance agreed closely with the balloon distance minus 1 cm (bias 0.29 cm; 95% CI of bias, 0.03 to 0.55 cm; 2 SD, limits of agreement, 1.58 cm). We conclude that where oesophageal manometry is not available, balloon localisation is a suitably accurate way of identifying the lower oesophageal sphincter.
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