Gall stones

Gall stones:

What is gallbladder?

It is an organ just below the liver which stores bile.

WHAT ARE GALLSTONES?

Gallstones are collections of solid material that form inside the gallbladder. Stones can form in the gallbladder if there is a change or imbalance in the composition of bile or if the gallbladder does not empty completely.

Gallstones may be as small as tiny specks or as large as the gallbladder itself. The vast majority, however, are smaller than 1 inch (2.5 cm) and are one of two major types, cholesterol or pigment. Gallstone type is important since cholesterol stones are more likely to respond to non-surgical treatments than pigment stones. Cholesterol gallstones account for approximately 80 percent of gallstones in developed countries, including the United States. Pigment stones account for about 20 percent of gallstones.

GALLSTONES RISK FACTORS :

The exact reason gallstones develop is not known. However, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of gallstones.

Sex — Gallstones are more common in women.

Age — The risk of gallstones increases with age. The condition is extremely rare in children and becomes progressively more frequent over time, especially after age 40.

Family history and genetics — Gallstones are more common in certain families, suggesting that genetics has a role in gallstone development.

Other factors — Other conditions can increase the risk of developing gallstones, including: Pregnancy Use of medicines that contain estrogen (such as birth control pills).

Obesity.

Frequent fasting Rapid weight loss (including patients who have surgical weight loss treatments) Lack of physical activity.

Diabetes mellitus.

Sickle cell disease (and other conditions associated with rapid destruction of red blood cells, such as in patients with mechanical heart valves).

Cirrhosis or severe scarring of the liver.

Certain medications.

GALLSTONE SYMPTOMS :

Silent gallstones — The majority of people who have gallstones do not have symptoms; their stones remain “silent.” Silent gallstones are often found on an ultrasound or CT scan done for other reasons.Silent stones do not need to be treated since initial symptoms of gallstones are usually mild and the risk of surgical removal of the gallbladder is greater than the risk of delaying treatment.

If you have silent gallstones, you should be aware of the initial symptoms of gallstone disease because treatment should begin immediately if you develop symptoms (see “Biliary colic” below); the chance of worsening symptoms increases if treatment is delayed.

Biliary colic — Biliary colic, also known as gallstone pain or biliary pain, is the most common symptom of gallstone disease. It is characterized by attacks of abdominal pain, often located in the right upper abdomen just under the lower ribs. You may also feel pain in the back and right shoulder, nausea, and vomiting.

Biliary colic is usually caused by the gallbladder contracting in response to a fatty meal. This compresses the stones, blocking the opening. As the gallbladder relaxes several hours after the meal, the pain subsides.

Once you have a first attack of biliary colic, there is a good chance you will have more severe symptoms in the future.

Acute cholecystitis — Acute cholecystitis refers to inflammation of the gallbladder. It is due to total blockage of the gallbladder caused by repeated episodes of biliary colic. Unlike biliary colic, which resolves within a few hours, pain is constant with acute cholecystitis and fever is common.

Acute cholecystitis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention and treatment in the hospital. Treatment includes intravenous fluids, pain medications, and sometimes, antibiotics. Surgical removal of the gallbladder is usually recommended during the hospitalization or shortly thereafter. If not treated, acute cholecystitis can lead to gallbladder rupture, a life-threatening condition.

Complications of gallstones — Complications can develop if gallstones move and block area where bile exits (a condition known as choledocholithiasis). Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes. Acute cholangitis is an infection of the bile ducts that causes pain, chills, and fever. This requires prompt treatment, usually involving removal of the gallstone with a non-surgical procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP. (See “Patient information: ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)”). Acute pancreatitis is sudden inflammation of the pancreas, which is associated with severe abdominal pain

What is gallbladder?

It is an organ just below the liver which stores bile.

WHAT ARE GALLSTONES?

Gallstones are collections of solid material that form inside the gallbladder. Stones can form in the gallbladder if there is a change or imbalance in the composition of bile or if the gallbladder does not empty completely.

Gallstones may be as small as tiny specks or as large as the gallbladder itself. The vast majority, however, are smaller than 1 inch (2.5 cm) and are one of two major types, cholesterol or pigment. Gallstone type is important since cholesterol stones are more likely to respond to non-surgical treatments than pigment stones. Cholesterol gallstones account for approximately 80 percent of gallstones in developed countries, including the United States. Pigment stones account for about 20 percent of gallstones.

GALLSTONES RISK FACTORS :

The exact reason gallstones develop is not known. However, there are a number of factors that increase the risk of gallstones.

Sex — Gallstones are more common in women.

Age — The risk of gallstones increases with age. The condition is extremely rare in children and becomes progressively more frequent over time, especially after age 40.

Family history and genetics — Gallstones are more common in certain families, suggesting that genetics has a role in gallstone development.

Other factors — Other conditions can increase the risk of developing gallstones, including: Pregnancy Use of medicines that contain estrogen (such as birth control pills).

Obesity.

Frequent fasting Rapid weight loss (including patients who have surgical weight loss treatments) Lack of physical activity.

Diabetes mellitus.

Sickle cell disease (and other conditions associated with rapid destruction of red blood cells, such as in patients with mechanical heart valves).

Cirrhosis or severe scarring of the liver.

Certain medications.

GALLSTONE SYMPTOMS :

Silent gallstones — The majority of people who have gallstones do not have symptoms; their stones remain “silent.” Silent gallstones are often found on an ultrasound or CT scan done for other reasons.Silent stones do not need to be treated since initial symptoms of gallstones are usually mild and the risk of surgical removal of the gallbladder is greater than the risk of delaying treatment.

If you have silent gallstones, you should be aware of the initial symptoms of gallstone disease because treatment should begin immediately if you develop symptoms (see “Biliary colic” below); the chance of worsening symptoms increases if treatment is delayed.

Biliary colic — Biliary colic, also known as gallstone pain or biliary pain, is the most common symptom of gallstone disease. It is characterized by attacks of abdominal pain, often located in the right upper abdomen just under the lower ribs. You may also feel pain in the back and right shoulder, nausea, and vomiting.

Biliary colic is usually caused by the gallbladder contracting in response to a fatty meal. This compresses the stones, blocking the opening. As the gallbladder relaxes several hours after the meal, the pain subsides.

Once you have a first attack of biliary colic, there is a good chance you will have more severe symptoms in the future.

Acute cholecystitis — Acute cholecystitis refers to inflammation of the gallbladder. It is due to total blockage of the gallbladder caused by repeated episodes of biliary colic. Unlike biliary colic, which resolves within a few hours, pain is constant with acute cholecystitis and fever is common.

Acute cholecystitis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention and treatment in the hospital. Treatment includes intravenous fluids, pain medications, and sometimes, antibiotics. Surgical removal of the gallbladder is usually recommended during the hospitalization or shortly thereafter. If not treated, acute cholecystitis can lead to gallbladder rupture, a life-threatening condition.

Complications of gallstones — Complications can develop if gallstones move and block area where bile exits (a condition known as choledocholithiasis). Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes. Acute cholangitis is an infection of the bile ducts that causes pain, chills, and fever. This requires prompt treatment, usually involving removal of the gallstone with a non-surgical procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP. (See “Patient information: ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography)”). Acute pancreatitis is sudden inflammation of the pancreas, which is associated with severe abdominal pain

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