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Doctor Chip
Doctor Chip, Board Certified Physician
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Experience:  20 yrs practice, surgery, general medicine, addiction medicine, pain
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What sort of things can cause your gall bladder to stop functioning

Customer Question

What sort of things can cause your gall bladder to stop functioning? I had a HIDA scan (2 actually just to verify the first result) that shows my gall bladder is functioning at 0%. The ultrasound is negative for any gall stones or abnormalities except for a mass on my liver that has been there for at least a couple of years and is nothing (according to the tests that were done when we found it and there has been no change in size). In January I had a procedure done, a lumbar sympathetic block, and immediately after it I began to have all sorts of severe symptoms and they have been traced back (so far) to this non functioning gall bladder. I also have complex regional pain syndrome (formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy) which is why I was getting the lumbar sympathetic block in the first place. Some of my symptoms could be explained by a spread of that as well. But the symptoms that they are saying are due to the gall bladder all began immediately after the procedure and have gotten worse since then...I was totally fine before the block. I had a high sed rate and CRP for a while after the procedure. I have also been on Tramadol, Celebrex, Neurontin, and 3000mg of tylenol a day at the time of the procedure and there was no change in meds when my symptoms started to occur (though we have tried different things since).

The symptoms that they have attributed to the gall bladder (though some could also be the result of pain from the CRPS): severe bloating (this happened a couple days after the block and it happened all at once...not over time), dizziness, nausea, vomitting 3-7 times a day, balance trouble, blurry vision, double vision, headaches, and pain in my upper body everywhere that I am puffy from the bloating.

So...what sort of things could just stop a gall bladder from functioning so suddenly? Meds, infection, anything with the procedure itself, or something else entirely? Oh...they also put me on Norco for the pain after the procedure which was before the bloating started...but I went off of it after 2 weeks because it was not helping at all with the pain. It's been 6 months since the block with the symptoms gradually getting worse (they were horrible immediately and have grown worse over time)...but they are just finding this now because we have checked every other thing except one which I cannot afford and this is the only thing with any meat to it that could explain these symptoms (besides a possible spread of the complex regional pain syndrome which would be the last possible diagnosis if everything else is ruled out since there's really no specific test that can tell you for sure if it's this).
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Doctor Chip replied 3 years ago.

Has it been suggest that you have your gall bladder removed? Has anything else been suggest as a cause of your GI symptoms?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Nothing at all has been suggested that could have caused this problem. The only other possibility for the vomitting/nausea/dizziness is that I know I usually get nauseous when I am in a lot of pain..and the pain has been unbearable since the block. I am going to meet with a surgeon next week to discuss removal of my gall bladder. But I would like some idea of what might have caused this problem because if it's possible that it was the medications, the block, the CRPS itself (since I know a lot of people with CRPS suffer from gastroparesis and other similar problems)...just so that I can try to avoid things which may be causing more harm than good for me (the medications barely make a dent in my pain).
Expert:  Doctor Chip replied 3 years ago.
The gall bladder symptoms, if that's the problem, are usually right upper quadrant pain with right should pain sometimes accompanying that. Usually occurs after eating a meal that is fatty in content--is that what happens?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No...the pain is all the time (which is why I suspect it is more CRPS related especially given the severity of it). The pain is everywhere...but I am particularly sensitive and puffy in the upper right of my abdomen...just under the ribs. That pain is a little different than the other pain everywhere else which is mostly severe burning and sensitivity to touch. The vomitting is all day long...typically worse at night but not always and sometimes happens with food and sometime not.
Expert:  Doctor Chip replied 3 years ago.
And does the gastroenterologist think the gall bladder is causing a problem?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
He seems to...recommeded that I see a surgeon to have it removed. He seems to think that because the gall bladder is not contracting at all that the bile is building up in my system and could be causing a lot of these problems. But there seems to be an attitude of there's no way to know what would cause the gall bladder to be functioning at 0% and if we don't know that then how do we know if this makes sense since all my problems started after I had the block. There could've been an undiagnosed infection that entered my system when I had the block (because of the high sed rate/CRP) that has since left my system but did some damage...could that have caused the gall bladder to be damaged? The process has just been SO slow in getting answers over the past 6 months...and I just want to make sure that if I decide to have the gall bladder removed that it is for the right reasons and not just because I am SO desperate for an answer that I will do anything, you know?
Expert:  Doctor Chip replied 3 years ago.
OK--one last question. Are you being told that the gall bladder doesn't contract at all--it's completely paralyzed, so to speak?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes...the HIDA scan results showed that it was 0%. I did not feel anything at all when I had the medication injected and from what other people who have had the test have told me, that is unusual. We actually did the test a second time because my doctor said he has never seen that before and there was a problem with my IV during the first test where fluid leaked into my arm. So I have been told that it is not contracting at all (and that is why I may be throwing up so much since my body can't process those foods). Does that make sense? What would cause that?
Expert:  Doctor Chip replied 3 years ago.
Did they also inject a medication called chloecystokinin to see if the gall bladder would contract?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes...and nothing happened.
Expert:  Doctor Chip replied 3 years ago.
OK. There are no specific reasons for the gall bladder to stop functioning, although there is a theory that it may have to do with dopamine receptors and that could be stretched to thinking about Parkinson's disease or other central nervous system conditions. The usual recommendation if it's felt that this is causing intolerable symptoms is for removal of the gall bladder, and in many cases that does solve the problem. I can only say that your gastroenterologist knows you much better than I and if he feels that it's worth having the surgery, you should seriously consider agreeing to that.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
What are dopamine receptors? If this theory is correct...is that something that could be affected my certain medications like NSAIDS, narcotics, or other pain medications? Would complex regional pain syndrome affect them?
Expert:  Doctor Chip replied 3 years ago.

Dopamine receptors respond to dopamine and if they are blocked the response would not occur. This is just a theory, not really substantiated as yet. I don't think there's any correlation with the CRPS or the medications. Bottom line here--even if a cause were found, I don't think there's any way to restore the normal function to your gall bladder.

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