Research Article| Volume 33, ISSUE 5, P697-703, September 2019

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Dual pH Probes Without Proximal Esophageal and Pharyngeal Impedance May Be Deficient in Diagnosing LPR

  • Lawrence F. Borges
    Division of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Designates cosenior authors.
    Walter W. Chan
    1 Designates cosenior authors.
    Division of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Designates cosenior authors.
    Thomas L. Carroll
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Thomas L. Carroll, Division of Otolaryngology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 45 Francis St., Boston, MA 02115.
    1 Designates cosenior authors.
    Division of Otolaryngology, Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

    Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Designates cosenior authors.



      Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) is commonly treated with empiric acid suppression. More evidence points to pepsin in the pathophysiology of LPR. Previous studies have evaluated esophageal impedance in patients who had previously failed high dose proton pump inhibitor (PPI) using older catheters without proximal esophageal (just under the upper esophageal sphincter) and pharyngeal impedance sensors. The aim of this study was to compare what traditional diagnostic tools, used for esophageal reflux, would detect and diagnose compared with what a combined hypopharyngeal-esophageal MII catheter with dual pH (HEMII-pH) can detect in the esophagus and pharynx in patients with suspected LPR.


      Forty-two subjects with presumed LPR were referred for HEMII-pH testing. The number of distal and proximal esophageal impedance events, number of pharyngeal impedance events, symptom correlation, and event acidity were recorded. Previous normative values (>1 pharyngeal impedance events every 24 hours) were used to designate what was pathological LPR on HEMII-pH.


      Forty-two total subjects had pharyngeal impedance sensor data recorded. Twelve (28.6%) of the subjects were tested while taking high-dose PPI therapy. The mean number of proximal esophageal events was 23.3. The mean number of pharyngeal impedance events was 10. Thirty-four subjects (81%) tested positive for pharyngeal reflux. All patients who tested positive using traditional proximal impedance criteria also tested positive using pharyngeal criteria. Of patients who tested negative using traditional criteria, 72% were positive based on pharyngeal criteria.


      HEMII-pH catheters should be considered in patients with LPR symptoms. Traditional criteria used for diagnosing esophageal reflux may not translate into LPR.

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