oa South African Medical Journal - Twenty-four-hour oesophageal pH studies in rural Eastern Cape Province, South Africa - research

Volume 108 Number 11
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Background. Recent studies in rural Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, have shown an increased number of non-acid gastro-oesophageal reflux events, an increase in baseline gastric pH compared with other published series, and evidence suggestive of duodenogastric reflux. There are no published data on oesophageal pH in this community or in Africa. 

Objectives. To ascertain whether oesophageal pH in this rural community is within normal limits. 

Methods. We carried out 24-hour oesophageal pH/impedance studies on 91 participants. Analysis was carried out using computer software to determine 24-hour percentage times of oesophageal pH above 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Oesophageal pH during each episode of non-acid reflux was also recorded. Results. Participants were from Canzibe in rural Eastern Cape. Of the studies, 72 were satisfactory and showed 24-hour percentage times with an oesophageal pH >6 of 69.3/35.12/51.16 (upright/supine/total); percentage times with a pH >7 were 12.66/3.44/8.86 and those with a pH >8 were 0.48/0.21/0.37. These results are within the range of other published series. Of episodes of non-acid reflux, 90.2% were associated with an oesophageal pH of 4 - 7. 

Conclusions. Baseline oesophageal pH is not significantly affected by the increased numbers of non-acid gastro-oesophageal reflux events reported in this community. If there is a pathogenic effect of non-acid reflux in the Eastern Cape, it does not appear to be mediated through raised oesophageal pH.

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