Ask the Expert: The Bravo Monitor for acid reflux

02 July 2019

Acid reflux affects many of us, and can cause very unpleasant symptoms such as a burning sensation in your chest, a horrible taste in your mouth, bloating and nausea. With so many different causes, and the possible negative effects with the prolonged use of PPIs, it’s important for the acid to be monitored to ensure the best treatment and outcome. Our Consultant Gastroenterologist, Dr Alan Watson, discusses the Bravo monitor; the tiny, painless and harmless wireless device that is now available at Spire London East Hospital to monitor acid reflux in patients.

What is acid reflux?

Gastro-oesophageal reflux occurs when stomach acid rises into the gullet, causing pain and burning. A persistent cough, sore throat or abnormal taste sensations can also be related to acid reflux. In some cases, so called ‘silent reflux’ can occur, when the harmful effects of acid reflux have no obvious symptoms. Acid reflux can be extremely troublesome, and in rare cases can lead to pre-cancerous changes in the gullet, so it is an important diagnosis to establish and treat effectively.

Are all reflux-like symptoms related to acid?

Unfortunately not; symptoms similar to acid reflux can occur when there is no excess acid in the gullet. The oesophagus is a sensitive, muscular organ that can go into spasm or become hypersensitive, mimicking the exact symptoms of reflux, but not responding to anti-acids. Likewise, bile reflux from the first part of the small intestine can cause intrusive symptoms, and does not improve with standard treatment.

Aren’t modern anti-acid medications the answer to all acid-related problems?

‘Proton Pump Inhibitors’ (PPIs) such as omeprazole and lansoprazole have revolutionised treatment of reflux and ulcers, but there are concerns regarding their long term safety. It’s important to reduce their use whenever possible and stop them when symptoms aren’t related to acid. Of course, this requires an accurate method of monitoring oesophageal acidity. The Bravo monitor does exactly this.

What is the Bravo monitor?

The Bravo system is a tiny, painless and harmless wireless device that adheres gently to the oesophageal wall for up to four days. It transmits acidity measurements to a small portable monitor, enabling real-time monitoring of oesophageal acidity while the patient goes about their normal daily life. Symptoms can also be recorded simultaneously, allowing exact correlation between the patient’s experience and the monitor’ s readings.

Who would benefit from Bravo monitoring?

There are several groups of people that would benefit from Bravo monitoring:

  • People with reflux symptoms that don’t get better with standard treatment
  • Those on long term anti-acid tablets that wish to come off medication
  • Patients with unusual symptoms that might be related to reflux. These include persistent cough or throat clearing, atypical chest pain, voice changes, throat pain and sinus trouble

How can I find out more?

Bravo is fully tested and approved by regulatory authorities and is covered by all major insurers. Contact our Private Patient Executives to find out how you can book to see Dr Alan Watson for Bravo monitoring on 0208 7097817.


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