Gallstones - Puyallup Surgical Consultants
standard-title Gallstones

Gallstones

Gallstones

About the Condition

Gallstones

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time.

Gallstones are common in the United States. People who experience symptoms from their gallstones usually require gallbladder removal surgery. Gallstones that don’t cause any signs and symptoms typically don’t need treatment.

Reference

top

Signs and Symptoms

Gallstones may cause no signs or symptoms. If a gallstone lodges in a duct and causes a blockage, signs and symptoms may result, such as:

  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone
  • Back pain between your shoulder blades
  • Pain in your right shoulder

Gallstone pain may last several minutes to a few hours.

Reference

top

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of gallstones include:

  • Being female
  • Being age 60 or older
  • Being an American Indian
  • Being a Mexican-American
  • Being overweight or obese
  • 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 some cholesterol-lowering medications
  • Taking medications that contain estrogen, such as hormone therapy drugs

Reference

top

Diagnostic Process

Tests and procedures used to diagnose gallstones include:

  • Tests to create pictures of your gallbladder. Your doctor may recommend an abdominal ultrasound and a computerized tomography (CT) scan to create pictures of your gallbladder. These images can be analyzed to look for signs of gallstones.
  • Tests to check your bile ducts for gallstones. A test that uses a special dye to highlight your bile ducts on images may help your doctor determine whether a gallstone is causing a blockage. Tests may include a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Gallstones discovered using ERCP can be removed during the procedure.
  • Blood tests to look for complications. Blood tests may reveal an infection, jaundice, pancreatitis or other complications caused by gallstones.

Reference

top

Treatment Options

Treatment for gallstones that cause signs and symptoms

Treatment options for gallstones include:

  • Surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy).Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder, since gallstones frequently recur. Once your gallbladder is removed, bile flows directly from your liver into your small intestine, rather than being stored in your gallbladder. You don’t need your gallbladder to live, and gallbladder removal doesn’t affect your ability to digest food, but it can cause diarrhea, which is usually temporary.
  • Medications to dissolve gallstones. Medications you take by mouth may help dissolve gallstones. But it may take months or years of treatment to dissolve your gallstones in this way. Sometimes medications don’t work. Medications for gallstones aren’t commonly used and are reserved for people who can’t undergo surgery.

[/custom_list

Reference
top

Loading…