Gallstones Symptoms & Treatment
Gallstones are solid particles that develop in the gallbladder, a small sac-like organ located in your upper right upper abdomen, under your liver. Your gallbladder works with your liver and pancreas to produce bile and digestive enzymes.
Gallstones can vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. You may have only one gallstone or you can have hundreds of tiny ones. If gallstones block the flow of bile, the gallbladder can become painful and inflamed, causing sudden, acute pain in the upper right abdomen.
This condition may not produce symptoms, and some gallstones do not require treatment. Pain is the main symptom when gallstones cause problems.
Gallstones form when the gallbladder does not empty properly or when the components of bile are imbalanced. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder until it is needed. It helps break down food for digestion, especially fat. When you eat high-fat or high-cholesterol foods, bile travels through the common bile duct to the duodenum, or first part of the small intestine, where food is digested.
Bile is composed of cholesterol, bilirubin, bile salts, and other substances. This condition may form if bile contains too much cholesterol, too much bilirubin, or not enough bile salts, although most stones develop from an excess of cholesterol. Gallstones may also develop if the gallbladder does not empty completely or often enough.
You can have this condition and not even know it because they often do not cause symptoms. However, if gallstones block the bile ducts, pressure increases in the gallbladder, causing a gallbladder attack. When this happens, you will feel a constant, severe, and dull pain in your right upper abdomen.
Gallbladder attacks usually begin shortly after eating a high-fat meal and typically occur at night. The pain can last from one hour to several hours. Gallbladder attacks usually stop when gallstones move and no longer block the bile ducts.
If you experience nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), light-colored stools, or abdominal pain that lasts for more than 5 hours, you should go to the emergency room.
- Abdominal ultrasound
- CT scan
- Gallbladder radionuclide scan, known as cholescintigraphy, HIDA (hydroxyl iminodiacetic acid) scan, or hepatobiliary scan
- ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)
Many people with gallstones do not have symptoms and do not need treatment. However, if you have abdominal pain that lasts for more than 5 hours or any other symptoms, you will likely need surgery to remove the gallbladder and the gallstones. The most common surgery is laparoscopic (minimally invasive) cholecystectomy.
If a person with cholesterol stones cannot undergo surgery, nonsurgical treatments such as medication and/or electrohydraulic shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) may be used to dissolve cholesterol gallstones.
“The entire staff was pleasant, professional and efficient. I was so nervous and everyone, from the check-in staff to nurses and techs to the anesthesiologist and finally Dr Reddy simply made the whole experience so comfortable. Highly recommend these fine folks.”Read Testimonials