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Oesophageal Reflux Study (GORD Study)


  • You have been referred for an Oesophageal Reflux Study or Milk Scan in which imaging is done whilst swallowing some milk.

  • A Milk Scan is very sensitive in showing gastro-oesophageal reflux (food travelling back up the oesophagus from the stomach) and also if there is any pulmonary aspiration (food entering into the lungs).

  • The test involves swallowing some milk that has a tiny amount of radioactive "tracer" in it.

  • The tracer we use is called 99mTc-DTPA (99m-Technetium diethylene-triamine-penta-acetic acid). It is odourless and tasteless.

  • There are rarely any side effects with ingesting the tracer.

  • The images can be done lying down (for infant) or sitting with your left-side towards the camera.

  • We give you a small amount of "radioactive milk" to swallow and capture images using a Gamma Camera (1). We repeat this 2 - 3 times.

  • We then give you more milk to drink but this time it does not contain any tracer in it.

  • We then take a series of images of your stomach and chest in varying positions. This takes up to 45 minutes to complete.

  • Finally, we concentrate on imaging your lungs to see if there was any pulmonary aspiration. This takes up to 15 minutes to complete.

  • The whole study takes approximately 60 -75 minutes to complete.

  • Your results usually take 2 - 3 hours to produce, hence we usually send these directly to the referring doctor.

  • You receive a slight radiation dose by having an Oesophageal Reflux Study ~ up to 0.3 times your yearly background radiation (2).


Patient Preparation:

  • If you are pregnant, trying to fall pregnant or breast feeding, you must inform our staff.

  • Adults: Must NOT eat or drink anything for at least 4 hours prior the test.

  • Infants: Must NOT eat or drink anything for at least 2-3 hours prior the test i.e. miss a feed.

  • Infants: Mother needs to bring a full meal of either expressed milk or formula (the childs regular feed) in a milk-bottle.

  • If you have had prior imaging e.g. PET, Nuclear Scan, CT, MRI, X-Ray, Ultrasound, etc... please bring these with you.

  • Please also bring your referral and any blood results that you may have had done.

  • If you are on any medications, please take these as normal.

  • Adults: Wear comfortable clothing and minimise the amount of metal jewellery you have on (all metal objects will need to be removed prior to imaging).

  • Important Note: You cannot have this test if you have had a PET or Nuclear Scan within 24 hours prior to this test. If you have had Iodine-131 therapy, allow 4-weeks before having this test. Please ring to discuss booking options.​


Breast-Feeding Mothers: Once you have been given the tracer, you need to stop breast-feeding for two feeds. During this time, you need to express and discard your breast milk. You will need to bottle-feed your child during this period.



(1) A Gamma Camera is a device that detects gamma-rays (gamma-rays are very similar to x-rays) and does not emit any radiation.

(2) We all receive a yearly background radiation dose ~ 2.4mSv. Oesophageal Reflux Study ~ 0.8mSv = 0.3 times yearly background dose.

value. quality care. convenience.

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