Diagnosing swallowing issues

Problems affecting the upper gastrointestinal tract (mouth, throat, food pipe and stomach) often present with symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, discomfort when swallowing and regurgitation of food. Because gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is a common condition (affecting 1 in 10 people) it means that those suffering from less common swallowing conditions can be misdiagnosed. Around 1 in 3 patients diagnosed with GORD and prescribed PPIs to manage their condition, are actually suffering from another condition.

Typically patients with ongoing symptoms will be referred to a gastroenterologist for further investigations, such as a gastroscopy (where a narrow, flexible tube (an endoscope) with a light and a camera on the end is passed into the food pipe/stomach to view its structure/appearance). Over half of these will not detect any issues; this means the gastrointestinal tract looks fine and the cause of the patient’s symptoms is unclear.

However innovative new devices are able to investigate how the food pipe moves, measure pressure and understand how it responds when eating and drinking. This gives important clues to the gastroenterologist and helps them diagnose less common conditions.

What is Endoflip?

Endoflip is a testing device which can be utilised during routine endoscopy – this means it reaches the food pipe via a tube down the back of the throat (not via cuts in the neck or abdomen). It is a simple test which in itself takes about 10 minutes.

Endoflip has a multi‑electrode balloon catheter (this looks like a tiny clear balloon) which contains a pressure sensor and imaging probe. It can be augmented by the doctor to collect important data. It can measure the dimensions of the oesophagus, pressure within the food pipe and at the top of the stomach, as well as track movement and evaluate the function of the gastrointestinal tract.

Gastroenterologists can better diagnose less common conditions, such as achalasia, connective tissue disorders, eosinophilic esophagitis or other rare diseases.

What happens during Endoflip?

For patients it is very similar experience to a routine gastroscopy. You’ll be asked to fast (as the test works best when the stomach is empty). The test itself only takes about 10 minutes (but with prep and recovery time expect to be at the hospital for a few hours)

It can be carried out under local anaesthetic or sedative, depending on the patient’s preference. First the patient will undergo a standard gastroscopy. The endoscope will be passed through the oesophagus and down towards the stomach. This can be slightly uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last long. Following on from this the Endoflip catheter is passed alongside the endoscope and then measurements are taken – at the very most this will take 10 mins. Common side include a sore throat, bloating and difficulty in eating regular meals for 24 hours after the procedure.

Dr Rehan Haidry is an experienced consultant gastroenterologist who carries out Endoflip procedures routinely for patients who are (despite treatment) experiencing persistent GORD-like symptoms and are looking for a definitive diagnosis.

Get In Touch

For any enquiries about conditions, tests or treatments, please feel free to call Dr Rehan Haidry’s medical secretary Debra Hyams on:

Tel: 0203 423 7609  |  Email: rhaidrymedsec@ccf.org