What is biliary dyskinesia?

Biliary dyskinesia is a little-known but common disease. It impacts an organ in your body called your gallbladder. This is what moves your digestive fluid, or bile, from your liver to your intestines. The bile travels through small channels called bile ducts to get there. Your gallbladder and bile ducts work together to help your body process meals. Eating high-fat meals can make them have to work harder. Problems with this small organ can cause a lot of pain. This condition can result from an issue with your gallbladder or the muscles that regulate the flow of bile.

Causes of biliary dyskinesia

Scientists and doctors still aren't sure what causes this condition. They think it may be related to the way your body uses energy to move food through your digestive tract. Because the causes aren't known, it's difficult for doctors to know what might make someone more likely to have this condition.

Risk factors for biliary dyskinesia

Doctors don't have a lot of information about who has higher risks of getting the condition. It's not associated with gallstones, which form in your gallbladder. There may be a connection between biliary dyskinesia and another disorder that affects your ability to process food. People with pancreatitis may also develop this condition. Pancreatitis happens when your pancreas — another organ that helps you digest food — gets inflamed.

Symptoms of biliary dyskinesia

Symptoms of biliary dyskinesia are almost identical to those for gallstones. The most obvious symptom is a sudden, sharp pain in the upper-right side of your abdomen. You might feel this come on after a big meal. Sometimes the pain can spread to your back or side.

Other symptoms of biliary dyskinesia include:

  • Severe pain lasting more than 30 minutes
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

Diagnosis of biliary dyskinesia

If you have pain after eating a high-fat meal, your doctor may first suspect gallstones. They'll likely do a complete physical exam to check your body for symptoms. The doctor might also order laboratory tests. These help the doctor rule out any other conditions. Then, your doctor will likely perform an ultrasound. This is a test to show a picture of your organs without cutting you open to look at them. It can show whether you have gallstones. If you don't, the next step in diagnosis is to have a test to monitor how your body processes foods. You may get an injection that causes the same natural reaction as eating a high-fat meal. Your bile might not flow properly. Then, your doctor can tell if you have biliary dyskinesia.

Treatments for biliary dyskinesia

The only treatment for biliary dyskinesia is to remove your gallbladder. This organ isn't necessary for living a healthy life. This common procedure helps 90% of people who have the condition.

Sometimes, symptoms return even after your gallbladder is removed. This happens because there are muscles in your bile ducts that can cause the condition. The surgical treatment then is to cut those muscles to stop the spasms. This helps 80% of people whose symptoms return.

Gallbladder removal can cause some discomfort. It usually isn't too painful. Your doctor may be able to give you medicine that reduces your pain. While recovering, you may need stool softeners or a laxative. These make it easier to go to the bathroom.

Recovery from biliary dyskinesia

Overall, the treatment for biliary dyskinesia is very successful. It can help you return to your normal activities. Still, you should also make some changes to stay healthy. Try eating a high-fiber, low-fat diet and making time for regular exercise.

As you're healing, monitor your condition closely. If your pain gets worse or you have a fever, be sure to talk with your doctor right away. You should also have a bowel movement within three days of surgery; if not, be sure to let your doctor know.

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