Friday, March 25, 2011

A Diagnosis…Sort of

Since my last entry about my health I’ve undergone two more test, a HIDA scan and a hydrogen breath test. And I finally have some answers…kind of.

The HIDA scan is used to map the flow of bile from the liver to the gallbladder and from the gallbladder to the small intestines. It shows if there are any leaks or blockages in the bile dusts or if the gallbladder is sluggish or malfunctioning.

I had the HIDA scan on Monday, and it was one of the more unpleasant tests I’ve undergone, but it wasn’t horrible. First I was injected with radioactive tracers into my bloodstream, then I had to lay on a table inside a huge gamma ray camera. As soon as I lay down I could see an image of my liver on the monitor above my head. The image was basically just tiny white dots clustered together on a black screen…my liver looked like a bean shape cluster of stars in the sky.

I had to lie there completely still until the tracers reach my gallbladder, which took an hour. Once my gallbladder show up on the scan the second part of the test began, and that’s where it got uncomfortable. Next I was injected with a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) that makes the gallbladder contract. This triggered the painful symptoms that brought me to doctor in the first place. The purpose of this part of the test is to map how quickly bile moves out of the gallbladder into the small intestines. For me it seemed to go fairly quickly and the test was over in about 30 minutes.

While I was waiting for results of the HIDA scan I went in for a hydrogen breath test. The hydrogen breath test is used to test for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO is an overgrowth of the good bacteria, which is supposed to live in our large intestines, in your small intestines – it is not good to have it in the wrong part of your digestive tract and can cause many of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing. I was actually excited for this test and hopeful I would be positive for SIBO. SIBO is curable with antibiotics and I found a study linking it to Rosacea, which I also have. In that study, 47% of subjects with Rosacea tested positive for SIBO, compared to 4% of the control population. Of those with SIBO, 95% experienced remission of their Rosasea symptoms with the eradication of the SIBO. Hooray! Maybe I could cure two health problems that have plagued me for years with one ten day course of antibiotics.

And I did indeed test positive for SIBO…I’ve never been so happy to receive a diagnosis in my life. But that’s not the end of the story. Yesterday I receive a call from a nurse in the GI clinic. He told me my doctor had reviewed the results of my HIDA scan and she has referred me to a surgeon. Apparently, my gallbladder is not functioning properly and I my need surgery after all. But here’s the catch, I still haven’t been able to speak with my doctor, so I don’t know exactly what the results of the HIDA scan where or what might be wrong with my gallbladder. When I tried to get a hold of her again today, a different nurse told me I would have to wait to speak with the surgeon. Someone is supposed to call me to set up an appointment with a surgeon on Monday…hopefully I’ll be able to get in soon to see him. This has dragged on long enough.


  1. So happy you finally are getting answers! Let me know when you find out about surgery...

  2. Thanks Nicole! I think once I'm recovered, I may need to come up to PDX for a visit...I need a vacation. :)