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

  • Celiac disease
  • Autoimmune pancreatitis
  • Bile duct stones (gallstones)
  • Scarring of the bile duct

Laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder or of the sphincter may alleviate the symptoms.