Potential causes of bile reflux into the stomach include surgery complications, peptic ulcers and gallbladder surgery, reports Mayo Clinic. Bile reflux often results from gastric bypass surgery for weight loss and gastrectomy. Peptic ulcers cause bile reflux when they obstruct the pyloric valve, hampering it from opening wide enough to enable proper emptying of the stomach. Gastric pressure increases when food remains stagnant in the stomach, causing bile and stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus.
Patients who undergo gallbladder surgery, or cholecystectomy, experience more bile reflux compared to people who did not have the surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. Bile reflux typically occurs when the pyloric valve fails to shut completely, causing bile to flow back to the stomach.
After food and bile combine in the duodenum, which is the upper portion of the small intestine, they enter the pyloric valve and proceed further down the small intestine, explains Mayo Clinic. The valve typically widens enough to allow tiny amounts of liquefied food to enter while preventing digestive juices to flow back to the stomach.
Signs and symptoms of bile reflux include nausea, intense upper abdominal pain and frequent heartburn, which is a burning feeling in the chest that may also affect the throat and cause a sour taste in the mouth, states Mayo Clinic. Some patients also experience unexpected weight loss, hoarse voices, coughing or vomiting bile, which appears as a greenish-yellow fluid.