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What is gallbladder stone?

The gallbladder is a small organ placed below the liver which stores bile, a green-yellow liquid that helps with digestion. Gallbladder stones or gallstones get created in the gallbladder when there is too much cholesterol present in the bile. These stones can cause pain and other complications.

Possible Causes: 

Your gallbladder is a small organ near the liver which stores a liquid called bile, that helps with digestion. Hardened deposits in the gallbladder are called gallstones.

While the exact cause of this cannot be determined, doctors believe that the following may be contributing factors:

  • Excess cholesterol in the bile.
  • Excess of a chemical called bilirubin.
  • The gallbladder is not emptying correctly.

Risk Factors: 

The factors that increase the risk of gallbladder stones are:

  • Females are more prone to have gallbladder stones.
  • Age over 40 years.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Pregnancy.
  • A high-fat or high-cholesterol or low-fibre diet.
  • A family history of gallstones.
  • Having diabetes.
  • Losing weight very quickly.
  • Medications that contain oestrogen, such as oral contraceptives or hormone therapy drugs.
  • Having liver disease.

Signs & Symptoms: 

A majority of people who have gallstones don’t have any symptoms, and the stones are discovered during an X-ray or another procedure.

If you do have symptoms, you may experience pain in the upper right abdomen. Gallstones pain may increase if you eat fatty or fried foods. You may have nausea or vomiting or diarrhoea or indigestion. The urine could change to a dark colour and stools could appear clay coloured. These symptoms are called biliary colic.

Diagnosis: 

If gallstones are suspected, your doctor may ask for certain tests to confirm the diagnosis. An abdominal ultrasound or CT scan may be required. There are also certain other tests to check if the gallstones are causing a blockage. These include the HIDA scan, MRI or an ERCP scan. A blood test may also be prescribed, in order to check for any complications such as jaundice or pancreatitis.

Treatment Options: 

At Medcare’s General Surgery Centre, a specialist will recommend the right gallstones treatment for you. Some people who have gallstones don’t need treatment. The surgeon will determine whether you do, based on your symptoms and the findings from diagnostic tests.

You can discuss how to remove gallbladder stones without an operation – such as by medications that dissolve the stones. Or your doctor may recommend gallbladder stones surgery. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure that can be used to remove the gallbladder.

Gallbladder removal does not affect your life or your digestion. Gallstones in the bile duct do need to be removed even if there are no symptoms, and this is usually done by an endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) procedure.

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • I have been advised to get my gallbladder removed. Will this affect my ability to digest food?

    A: You can digest food properly without a gallbladder. Bile flows directly from the liver to the small intestine. After a gallbladder removal surgery, some patients have softer stools for a few days.

  • Can I prevent gallstones?

    A: You can reduce your risk of gallstones by maintaining a healthy weight, eating the right foods and exercising. If you are trying to lose weight, lose it gradually and not rapidly, as that may cause gallstones.

    The right gallbladder stones diet is one that is balanced and includes grains, vegetables, nuts and fibre. For gallstones, foods to avoid include sugar and carbohydrates. Coffee has been found to reduce the risk of gallbladder stones, so enjoy your cup.
     

  • How quickly will I recover from a gallbladder removal surgery?

    A: A gallbladder removal surgery is called a cholecystectomy and it can be performed in two ways. If your surgeon has performed it by laparoscopy, then recovery is quite fast. You will be sent home from hospital once you can eat and drink without feeling pain, and able to walk comfortably. 

    If gallbladder is removed by an open surgery, you will require hospitalisation for a few days, and some days to rest at home before you can resume all your normal activities.

  • Can you remove gallstones without surgery?

    A: There are two standard nonsurgical ways to remove gallstones without surgery. The first process involves oral medication to dissolve the gallstones, while the second uses shockwaves to crush them into smaller pieces.

    Unfortunately, oral medicines are often poorly tolerated by the body and are effective mainly with small cholesterol stones. Dissolving all the stones can take months or sometimes, years of treatment.

    The shockwave-therapy or lithotripsy is more effective and easier, but is rarely used as the resulting bile sand is equally harmful and can cause symptoms lasting weeks.

    Thus, nonsurgical methods are likely to result in recurrences of stones, either in the lithogenic bile or in the biliary sand or incomplete dissolution of the stones.

    Want the best treatment to get rid of your gallstones? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • What foods cause gallstones?

    A: Gallstones are solid particles formed in the gallbladder from the amalgamation of cholesterol and bilirubin. 

    A steady intake of added sugars has been known to increase insulin secretion, which in turn raises the concentration of bile cholesterol. Reducing consumption of highly processed foods like doughnuts and cookies, and commercially baked, white starchy foods like bread, pasta, etc. is a good precaution.

    The biggest threat, however, comes from high-fat foods, which are more difficult to break down. These include whole-milk dairy products like cheese or ice cream, or items fried in vegetable oil and peanut oil.

    Are you suffering from gallstones? Visit a Medcare specialist today for successful treatment.

  • What happens if you leave gallstones untreated?

    A: If gallstones are left untreated, they can turn into more severe health issues like:-

    Inflamed gallbladder: This occurs when a gallstone prevents bile drain, causing severe pain in the upper right abdomen. If pus forms in the gallbladder, the organ can also die.

    Inflamed pancreas: A rare but potentially life-threatening disease, pancreatitis causes severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever. It occurs when a gallstone blocks the bile duct opening, causing digestive juices in the pancreas to attack itself. 

    Inflamed bile ducts: This kind of inflammation also leads to pain and fever, and even jaundice at times. It can also spread to other organs causing severe complications.

    Cancer of gallbladder, bile ducts: However, these cancers are rare, with only an estimated five out of 1,000 people contracting them.

    So, if you experience any of these symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.

    Don’t neglect gallstones; book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Do gallstones go away on their own?

    A: Typically, gallstones do not go away without treatment. However, in some cases, they may not cause any symptoms, and all that is needed to prevent complications is dietary changes. 

    Treatment for gallstones can be both surgical and nonsurgical. For instance, those opposed to surgery can take bile acid salts to dissolve cholesterol, which causes gallstones. Another nonsurgical treatment is using shock waves to crush the stones.

    Some people also choose to remove the gallbladder surgically if required. 

    Keep in mind, though, that a doctor’s opinion should be taken before taking any of these routes.

    Want to get rid of your gallstones in the safest way possible? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

  • Are gallstones serious?

    A: Gallstones often cause no problems. Many patients are often unaware that they even have gallstones until they experience some abdominal pain. 

    However, gallstones can lead to several complications, including organ damage which occurs when the stones block bile from leaving the gallbladder. They can even block the bile duct, liver or pancreas. If these conditions go untreated, it can prove to be fatal.

    Gallstones can even lead to inflammation in the gallbladder or ducts, or even in the liver and pancreas. Another complication that can arise, though rare, is gallbladder cancer. This makes getting treated at the earliest the best way to go.

    Don’t ignore abdomen pain as it could be a sign of gallstones. Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today for a consultation.

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