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Functional SOD

Patients with a similar pain problem, but who have little or no abnormalities on blood tests and standard scans (including MRCP), are categorized as having SOD Type III. The episodes of pain are assumed due to intermittent spasm of the sphincter. It is very difficult to effectively evaluate and manage patients with Type III SOD. Some physicians are skeptical of its existence, or assume that it is a part of a broader problem of a functional digestive disturbance such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Because of the risks of ERCP, patients with suspected SOD III are usually advised to try medical treatments first. Some respond to the use of antispasmodic drugs and/or antidepressants that may help decrease pain.  There have been studies of other medical therapies, such as calcium channel blocking drugs. Despite a few encouraging reports, these methods have not proven to be effective generally, and are not widely used.

Patients who fail these approaches (at least those with severe symptoms) are usually advised to see specialists at referral centers. Further evaluation may involve additional or more specialized tests to help guide treatment options.

Clinical Research Study

The uncertainties in how best to diagnose and to treat “suspected” sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (and the risks involved) mandate further scientific investigation. The National Institutes of Health has recently funded an important study called “EPISOD” in 6 major Gastroenterology centers in USA.

The studies are being conducted at centers located in:

  • Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
  • Medical University of South Carolina Digestive Disease Center, Charleston, SC
  • Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN
  • Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA

Additional details are available at this NIH webpage

Working with Your Doctor

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Successful relationships with healthcare providers are an important part of managing life with a long-term digestive disorder.

Doctor–Patient Communication

How to Help Your Doctor Help You

How to Talk to Your Doctor