I had a Nissen wrap in October 2007. We thought that the surgery would resolve reflux and painful attacks I was experiencing. The pain was incorrectly attributed to esophageal spasms. When they continued after the Nissen, they started checking out my gallbladder.
The pain you are describing is very familiar to me. Your symptoms point to gallstones so your doctor checked for them and put you through gallbladder tests. The tests showed no problems with your gallbladder. Your experience up to here is the same as mine. Now here's where I'm fortunate to have a GI that is well-versed in sphincter of oddi dysfunction. The sphincter of oddi is the valve at the end of the bile duct shared by the pancreas and gallbladder where it empties into the small intestine.
Dare5555 was on the money with their answer regarding a blockage. If the sphincter of oddi is not working properly, it doesn't
open to allow the bile to flow - this causes the bile to back up and causes intense pressure in the duct. Just like if a gallstone were blocking the
opening. In my case, the sphincter did not
open and close properly and the bile duct itself was so narrow the bile did not flow freely - the pressure built up in that duct was so high that the pain was excruciating. Many physicians overlook the sphincter of oddi as the cause of problems.
The tests to determine sphincter of oddi dysfunction are done endoscopically - you lay on your tummy and get put to sleep. Not deep like surgery, just lightly like a regular endoscopic procedure. Then they use special equipment to test the pressure inside the duct. This must be done by a highly trained technician and GI. The procedure to fix a sphincter of oddi problem is called a sphincterotomy and is also done endoscopically. It's a risky procedure, but when done by a well-trained physician, it is worth it.
I had the biliary sphincterotomy about
a month ago - Feb 28th. The recovery was unusual in that I was nauseaus for 10 days and was really feeling ill. But after that 10 days things got so much better. Most people have easier recoveries - mine was bad partly because I had a small intestine bacterial overgrowth that caused some issues. I'm glad I did the procedure. I have no more pain. Foods no longer trigger a painful attack. I can eat anything I want.
Do some surfing on the web on reputable sites and look for "billiary sphincterotomy" and "sphincter of oddi". I think you will find some interesting information that pertains to your symptoms. Then you can have another discussion with your GI or find a different GI to discuss your findings with.
Post Edited (HappilyWrapped) : 4/4/2008 12:51:17 PM (GMT-6)