Bernstein test

Alternative names
Acid perfusion test

Definition

The Bernstein test attempts to reproduce symptoms of heartburn. It is usually done along with other tests dealing with esophageal functions.

How the test is performed

The test is done in a laboratory. A nasogastric (NG) tube will be inserted through your nostril and down into your esophagus. An infusion of mild hydrochloric acid is introduced through the tube, alternating with a saline solution, and you will be asked to report any discomfort you experience during the test.

How to prepare for the test

You should not consume any food or fluid for 8 hours before the procedure.

Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

How the test will feel

You may experience some discomfort as the NG tube is placed. You may feel symptoms of heartburn while the hydrochloric acid solution is being administered.

You may have a mild sore throat after the test.

Why the test is performed
The test attempts to reproduce symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (stomach acids coming back up into the esophagus).

Normal Values
The test results will be negative.

What abnormal results mean
Positive test indicates that the symptoms are caused by esophageal reflux.

What the risks are

There is a risk of gagging or vomiting.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Simon D. Mitin, M.D.

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