Although sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is a recognised cause of post cholecystectomy pain, the control mechanisms involved in sphincter of Oddi function are poorly understood. Pharmacological relaxation of the sphincter of Oddi may have a beneficial effect particularly in sphincter of Oddi dysfunction where basal sphincter pressure is high. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of calcium channel blockade (nicardipine) and synthetic cholecystokinin (ceruletide) on sphincter of Oddi pressures. Nineteen patients (median age 49 years; range 21-75) attending for routine endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographic (ERCP) examination were studied. No patients with evidence of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction were included in the study. Each patient was randomly allocated to receive a three minute intravenous infusion of nicardipine 3 mg (six) ceruletide 5 ng/kg (seven) or placebo (six). Endoscopic biliary manometry was done with recording of basal sphincter of Oddi pressures, sphincter of Oddi phasic wave amplitude and frequency before and after intravenous infusions. In the nicardipine group patients showed a decrease in both basal and phasic amplitude sphincter of Oddi pressure (mm Hg) from the preinfusion values (mean (SEM)) of 24.7 (3.6) and 112.3 (13.4) to 12.9 (2.9) (p less than 0.01) and 89.9 (12.4) (p less than 0.03) after infusion respectively. Ceruletide produced a decrease in sphincter of Oddi phasic wave frequency (c/min) from 3.4 (0.3) before infusion to 2.6 (0.5) after infusion (p less than 0.05). We conclude that nicardipine effectively decreases sphincter of Oddi pressure. This drug may therefore be of value in the treatment of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction where raised sphincter pressures are thought to be the primary pathogenic feature.
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