How is sphincter of Oddi dysfunction treated?

If the pain is not too severe, especially in hard-to-diagnose category III patients, medical treatment is usually the first course of action. Some patients can get relief by using pain medications that prevent the sphincter of Oddi from having spasms.

When the pain is severe, and tests have clearly identified the pain as being caused by sphincter of Oddi dysfunction, your doctor may refer you for an endoscopic procedure called a sphincterotomy. You will either be sedated or put to sleep under anesthesia for this procedure. A surgeon will pass a thin instrument into the area of the small intestine where the sphincter of Oddi is located and cut the muscle. The surgeon will also make sure that there aren't any stones in the gallbladder (if it hasn't already been removed) or in the bile ducts.

In most cases, sphincterotomy can bring about good relief of the pain and other symptoms of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. However, this procedure is usually tried only after medical treatment has failed. Sphincterotomy is a difficult procedure that has a fairly high risk of complications. About 5% to 15% of patients have complications such as mild inflammation of the pancreas, but in some cases the complications are severe and can require a long stay in the hospital.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/22/2018.


  • International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction. Accessed 6/27/2018.
  • Hogan WJ. Diagnosis and Treatment of Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction. Gastroenterol Hepatol (NY). 2007 Jan; 3(1): 31–35.
  • Marks JM, Ponsky JL. Chapter 3. Endoscopy and Endoscopic Intervention. In: Zinner MJ, Ashley SW, eds. Maingot's Abdominal Operations. 12th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2013

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