When it’s working properly, the sphincter of Oddi (a muscle between the pancreas and small intestine) opens to allow bile and pancreatic juice to flow through and then closes again. A dysfunctional sphincter of Oddi does not open when it should (or is blocked) and leads to a backup of digestive juices that can cause bouts of severe abdominal pain and the following symptoms:
Pain localized near the pancreas
Jaundice caused by bile leaking into the blood stream
Attacks of pancreatitis
Causes of this dysfunction include
Bile duct stones (gallstones)
Scarring of the bile duct
Laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder or of the sphincter may alleviate the symptoms.
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Get answers to commonly asked questions about the Gastroenterology department at MedStar Georgetown.