by Brooke Lee Keefer
It is well known that Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction (SOD) is difficult to diagnose. Many SOD sufferers have normal blood test results and scans, leaving them and their physicians frustrated on what is causing disabling symptoms and how to proceed. The once “gold standard” method for diagnosing SOD, ERCP with manometry, has been largely abandoned by many of today’s gastroenterologists, mostly due to the outcomes of the EPISOD study but also because of the risk of acute pancreatitis.
In my opinion, a physician’s absolute refusal to consider SOD as a potential diagnosis is unfortunate because dysfunction of the bilary and pancreatic sphincters and sphincter of oddi do occur. It is impossible to claim these little body parts are the only parts of the entire human body completely exempt from dysfunction. No body part is “perfect”, but what a nice thought. All valves/sphincters have the propensity for malfunction, i.e. ileocaecal valve, heart valves, anal sphincters, pyloric valve, etc.
What it Could Be
There is an actual condition called Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms (MUPS). Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome used to be MUPS before they had names. You may have this or you may have something with a name to it. Regardless, the important thing is you take care of yourself and never give up searching for relief. Here are a few possible causes to your “SOD-like” symptoms, i.e. upper right quadrant pain with or without nausea, vomiting, unintended weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, malnutrition, and/or pancreatic and/or liver abnormalities.