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Gallstones

Also called: Cholelithiasis

Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ under your liver. It stores bile, a fluid made by your liver to digest fat. As your stomach and intestines digest food, your gallbladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct. The duct connects your gallbladder and liver to your small intestine.

Your gallbladder is most likely to give you trouble if something blocks the flow of bile through the bile ducts. That is usually a gallstone. Gallstones form when substances in bile harden. Gallstone attacks usually happen after you eat. Signs of a gallstone attack may include nausea, vomiting, or pain in the abdomen, back, or just under the right arm.

Gallstones are most common among older adults, women, overweight people, Native Americans and Mexican Americans.

Gallstones are often found during imaging tests for other health conditions. If you do not have symptoms, you usually do not need treatment. The most common treatment is removal of the gallbladder. Fortunately, you can live without a gallbladder. Bile has other ways to reach your small intestine.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Gallstones

The following features are indicative of Gallstones:
  • sudden and rapidly severe pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • sudden and rapidly severe pain in the center of the abdomen
  • back pain between the shoulder blades
  • pain in the right shoulder
  • nausea or vomiting
It is possible that Gallstones shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Gallstones

The following are the most common causes of Gallstones:
  • bile contains high amount of cholesterol
  • bile contains high amount of bilirubin
  • gallbladder does not empty correctly
  • DNA mutations

Risk Factors for Gallstones

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Gallstones:
  • being female
  • being age 40 or older
  • being a Native American
  • being a Mexican-American
  • being overweight or obese
  • being sedentary
  • being pregnant
  • eating a high-fat diet
  • eating a high-cholesterol diet
  • eating a low-fiber diet
  • having a family history of gallstones
  • having diabetes
  • losing weight very quickly
  • taking medications that contain estrogen
  • having liver disease

Prevention of Gallstones

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Gallstones. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • do not skip meals
  • lose weight slowly
  • maintain a healthy weight

Occurrence of Gallstones

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Gallstones cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Gallstones can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Gallstones can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Gallstones

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Gallstones:
  • Ultrasound and Computerized tomography (CT) scan: To get picture of gallbladder to detect signs of gallstones
  • Hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): To detect whether a gallstone is causing a blockage
  • Blood tests: To detect infections, pancreatitis, jaundice or other complications

Doctor for Diagnosis of Gallstones

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Gallstones:
  • Gastroenterologist

Complications of Gallstones if untreated

Yes, Gallstones causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Gallstones is left untreated:
  • gallbladder inflammation
  • blockage of the common bile duct
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct

Procedures for Treatment of Gallstones

The following procedures are used to treat Gallstones:
  • Cholecystectomy: To remove your gallbladder

Self-care for Gallstones

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Gallstones:
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Lowers the risk of gallstones

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Gallstones

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Gallstones:
  • Gallbladder cleanse involves combination of olive oil, herbs and some type of fruit juice: Helps in breaking up gallstones and stimulates the gallbladder to release them in stool

Patient Support for Treatment of Gallstones

The following actions may help Gallstones patients:
  • Talk with your doctor: Helps in making decisions and coping with the disease

Time for Treatment of Gallstones

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Gallstones to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Gallstones.

Related Topics

Gallbladder Diseases

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