Methods: We carried out a multi-centred, prospective, two-gate diagnostic accuracy study on patients who require routine NG-tube feeding in 10 NHS hospitals comparing the sensitivity of the novel pH strip to the standard pH test, using either chest X-rays or, in its absence, clinical observation of the absence of adverse events as the reference standard. We also tested the novel pH strips in lung aspirates from patients undergoing oesophageal cancer surgeries using visual inspection as the reference standard. We simulated health economics using a decision analytic model and carried out adoption studies to understand its route to commercialisation. The primary end point is the sensitivity of novel and standard pH tests at the recommended pH cut-off of 5.5.
Results: A total of 6400 ester-impregnated pH strips were prepared based on an ISO13485 quality management system. A total of 376 gastric samples were collected from adult patients in 10 NHS hospitals who were receiving routine NG-tube feeding. The sensitivities of the standard and novel pH tests were respectively 49.2% (95% CI 44.1‑54.3%) and 70.2% (95% CI 65.6‑74.8%) under pH cut-off of 5.5 and the novel test has a lung specificity of 89.5% (95% CI 79.6%, 99.4%). Our simulation showed that using the novel test can potentially save 132 unnecessary chest X-rays per check per every 1000 eligible patients, or direct savings of £4034 to the NHS.