Abstract

Non-acid reflux is common in premature neonates. Current methods of diagnosing gastroesophageal reflux (GER) such as pH probes, multichannel impedance monitoring, X-rays, or endoscopy are either invasive or unable to diagnose non-acid reflux. Passage of a naso-esophageal tube is uncomfortable. Imaging studies are of short duration and may miss reflux entirely. Herein, we present proof of concept of a noninvasive accelerometric device that detects acid and non-acid reflux in premature infants. An accelerometer was taped over the subxiphoid process in patients suspected of having GER who were already scheduled for pH probe or multichannel impedance monitoring. The largest cohort was preterm infants, but term infants and toddlers were also studied. Low-frequency subaudible signals were obtained on a digital recorder (sampling rate 200 Hz) signals. Fast Fourier transforms graphically displayed the frequency and amplitude of signals. Data were then resampled at a rate of 60 Hz to create a spectrogram with a focused range of 0–30 Hz representing reflux-associated events. Proof of concept was attained through successful comparison with results from concurrent pH probes, multichannel impedance recordings, and ultrasound studies. We have thus validated accelerometry as a noninvasive method for assessing both acid and non-acid GER. The noninvasiveness of this diagnostic modality allows for repeated testing to assess the efficacy of anti-reflux medications, even when patients remain on antacids. This technology allows for more rational management of patients with GER and represents a major advance in the diagnosis and treatment of GER.

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