What Are Gallstones?
- Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in your gallbladder, a small organ under your liver.
- Your gallbladder stores and releases bile, a fluid made in your liver, to help indigestion.
- Bile also carries wastes like cholesterol and bilirubin, which your body makes when it breaks down red blood cells.
- Gallstones can range from the size of a grain of sand to that of a golf ball.
- You might not know that you have them until they block a bile duct, causing pain that needs treatment right away.
The two main kinds of gallstones are:
- Cholesterol stones. These are usually yellow-green. They’re the most common, making up 80% of gallstones.
- Pigment stones. These are smaller and darker. They’re made of bilirubin.
- Gallstones may form when the chemicals in the gallbladder are out of balance, such as cholesterol, calcium bilirubin, and calcium carbonate.
- Pigment gallstones form when the bile has too much bilirubin.
- They are more common among people with liver disease, infected bile tubes, or blood disorders, such as sickle-cell anemia.
- Experts are not completely sure why some people develop the chemical imbalance in their gallbladder that causes gallstones, while others do not.
- However, gallstones are more common among people with obesity, especially women.
- A study revealed that having a waist size of 36 inches or more almost doubles a woman’s chances of developing gallstones and the need for surgery to remove them.
Signs and Symptoms of Gallstones:-
Symptoms may include:
- Pain in your upper belly, often on the right, just under your ribs
- Pain in your right shoulder or back
- An upset stomach
- Other digestive problems, including indigestion, heartburn, and gas
- Cholecystectomy is the other name of gallstone surgery.
- The experts at Citi Vascular Hospital recommend Laparoscopic Surgery.
- In laparoscopic gallstone surgery, the doctor makes a small incision and inserts a laparoscope that has a tiny video camera mounted on top and surgical tools.
- The tube, camera, and tools are inserted and the surgeon performs the surgery while looking at a TV monitor to remove the gallstones.
- In addition, the recovery time is much faster and the healed incision will practically leave no scar.
How are gallstones treated?
Most of the time, you won’t need treatment for gallstones unless they cause you pain. Sometimes you can pass gallstones without even noticing. If you’re in pain, your doctor will likely recommend surgery. In rare cases, medication may be used.
If you’re at high risk for surgery complications, a drainage tube may be placed into the gallbladder through the skin. Your surgery may be postponed until your risk is lowered by treating your other medical conditions.
What problems do gallstones cause?
Gallstones cause sudden onset severe pain in the upper abdomen or right half of abdomen which starts after food intake or in the night /early morning hours. Pain radiates to the right shoulder or back, it is moderate to severe and stops within ½ hr to 6 hrs. If pain lasts more than 24 hrs complications of gallstones such as gallbladder infection (acute cholecystitis) pancreatitis/ bile duct-liver infection (cholangitis) / gangrene or perforation are to be suspected.
Do all gallstones need treatment? What size stones are to be treated?
Unlike kidney stones, the treatment of gallstones is not decided by the size and no. of stones. Only the presence of stones and associated symptoms decide treatment. If a patient has symptoms even a single stone needs removal irrespective of size. Likewise, if the patient has no symptoms and gallstones are detected during a general health checkup, the patient can simply follow up even if he has multiple stones.
What are digestive / health problems caused by gallbladder removal?
The gallbladder does produce any digestive juices. Its primary function is bile storage in between meals. After cholecystectomy, the canal system of the liver (intra-hepatic biliary radicles) and common bile duct enlarge in size to accommodate and store bile. So, there are no digestive problems or need to change food habits after gall stone surgery. This is well documented as gallbladder surgery is one of the commonest surgeries done worldwide and there is a huge amount of scientific data to support this.