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All Boards >> Irritable Bowel Syndrome Research Library

HeatherAdministrator

Reged: 12/09/02
Posts: 7677
Loc: Seattle, WA
New Syndrome Connects Gallbladder Dysfunction And Chronic Diarrhea
      03/09/04 11:45 AM

Title: New Syndrome Connects Gallbladder Dysfunction And Chronic Diarrhea

Doctor's Guide

SUMMIT, NJ -- August 7, 2000 -- A study published in this month's issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that millions of Americans believed to be afflicted with chronic diarrhea (CD) as a result of an intestinal disorder may in fact be suffering from gallbladder dysfunction. Furthermore, this research is considered by many prominent gastroenterologists to be the first recognition of a new syndrome that links CD to gallbladder dysfunction.

Referred to as the Habba Syndrome, the groundbreaking research described by Saad F. Habba, M.D., attending gastroenterologist at Atlantic Health System's Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J., establishes a relationship between gallbladder dysfunction and chronic diarrhea. This independent study included 19 patients with varying degrees of CD (four to 10 bowel movements daily for at least three months) who consistently failed to improve on several traditional therapies, such as antispasmodic drugs and lactose-free diets. These patients routinely experienced quality-of-life issues ranging from social embarrassment to debilitation.

Dr. Habba observed that his patients presented CD symptoms that mimicked those found in some individuals who have had their gallbladders removed. In particular, they experienced CD only after meals and rarely at night unless they ate a heavy, late-night meal. After conducting a series of diagnostic tests and therapeutic trials, Dr. Habba was able to rule out the possibility of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other intestinal disorders. Specifically, he was able to confirm his theory of CD caused by a dysfunctional gallbladder as demonstrated by specific tests indicating abnormal contractions of the gallbladder. He then prescribed low doses of cholestyramine, a cholesterol-lowering drug often used by gastroenterologists to treat CD resulting from gallbladder removal. Each patient in the study experienced almost immediate relief from their chronic diarrhea following this treatment.

"Rising accounts of CD treatment failure have led me to believe that the gallbladder dysfunction demonstrated in my study may be a widespread condition," said Dr. Habba. "Chronic diarrhea results from a variety of causes and all possibilities should be explored before making a treatment decision."

Dr. Habba's independent study helps to create a clearer distinction between CD that results from gallbladder dysfunction and a variety of intestinal abnormalities. In particular, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal condition experienced by an estimated 35 million people in the U.S. and is a common cause of CD. Patients with this syndrome rarely experience the localized pain associated with IBS. In addition, these patients respond to bile acid binding agents (such as cholestyramine) rather than the antispasmodic drugs that typically control the intestinal contractions associated with IBS.

"This is an important clinical syndrome for all physicians who encounter CD patients to be aware of, because it is easily treatable and its early recognition may prevent many unnecessary diagnostic investigations," said Warren Finkelstein, M.D., New Jersey Governor of the American College of Gastroenterology. "Dr. Habba's findings of abnormal gallbladder function in his series of patients with chronic diarrhea is of significant interest."

The Habba Syndrome has the potential to provide a large number of patients with a more focused approach to their condition. "This marks an important milestone in the area of digestive diseases," said Carrol Leevy, M.D., distinguished professor and scientific director of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) Liver Center. "This work brings into focus a therapeutic category that has gone virtually undocumented in the scientific literature and opens the doors to future research initiatives on the origin of the problem."

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Heather is the Administrator of the IBS Message Boards. She’s the author of Eating for IBS and The First Year: IBS, and the CEO of Heather's Tummy Care. Join her IBS Newsletter. Meet Heather on Facebook!

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