Gallstones are stones or lumps that develop in the gallbladder or bile duct when some of the chemicals that exist in the gallbladder, such as cholesterol, calcium bilirubinate, and calcium carbonate, are out of balance and solidify into either one large stone or several small ones.
What are Gall Stones?
The gallbladder is a small sac located on the right-hand side of the body, on the underside of the liver, below the front rib cage. Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid (bile) produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating, aiding digestion. Bile travels through a narrow tube (bile ducts) into the small intestine. If they block the bile duct they can be extremely painful.
There are two main types of gallstones:
- Cholesterol Gallstones – these may form if there is too much cholesterol in the bile. They are usually yellow-green colour. They are the most common kind, accounting for 80% of all gallstones.
- Pigment gallstones – these forms when the bile has too much bilirubin. These stones are smaller and darker. They are more common among patients who have liver disease, infected bile tubes, or blood disorders, such as sickle-cell anaemia.
What Causes Gallstones?
There may be several reasons, including:
- Your genes
- Your weight
- Problems with your
- Gallbladder Diet
Bile can be part of the problem. Your body needs bile, but if it has too much cholesterol in it that makes gallstones more likely. It can also happen if your gallbladder can’t empty properly.
Symptoms of Gallstones
You might not notice anything, or even know that you have gallstones, unless your doctor tells you. But if you do get symptoms, they usually include:
- Pain in your upper belly and upper back that can last for several hours
- Nausea & vomiting
- Itching all over the body
- Other digestive problems, including bloating, indigestion and heartburn, and gas
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Stools of an unusual colour (often lighter, like clay)
What are the Complications of Untreated Gall Stones?
- The stone can block the bile duct and cause jaundice.
- The stone can slip down and obstruct the pancreatic duct sometimes causing life threatening pancreatitis.
- Gallbladder inflammation and pus collection(cholecystitis)
What are Gall Stones Diagnosed & Treated?
- Ultrasound is most commonly used to find gallstones.
- In a few more complex cases, CT scan,MRI or a gallbladder nuclear scan may be used to evaluate gallbladder disease.
- Gallstones do not go away their own. Some can be temporarily managed by making dietary adjustments, such as reducing fat intake. This treatment has a low, short-term success rate. Symptoms will eventually continue unless the gallbladder is removed. Treatments to break up or dissolve gallstones with medicines are NOT successful.
- Surgical removal (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) of the gallbladder is the time-honoured and safest treatment of gallbladder disease
Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy or Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the best method of treating gallstones that cause symptoms. Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is safe and effective. Surgery gets rid of gallstones located in the gallbladder. Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) removes the gallbladder and gallstones through several small cuts (incisions) in the abdomen. The surgeon inflates your abdomen with air or carbon dioxide in order to see clearly. The surgeon inserts a lighted scope attached to a video camera (laparoscope) into one incision near the belly button. The surgeon then uses a video monitor as a guide while inserting surgical instruments into the other incisions. Patients usually have minimal post-operative pain and usually experience faster recovery than open gallbladder surgery patients. Most patients go home the same day of the surgery and enjoy a quicker return to normal activities.