What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in your gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped hollow sac nestled beneath the liver in the right-upper abdomen. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that's released into your small intestine.

What Causes Gallstones?

A healthy gallbladder keeps bile flowing continuously. However, when the gallbladder becomes diseased, the flow slows, and bile becomes thick and gradually crystallizes. The stagnant crystallizes bile clump together to form stones.

What are the Symptoms of Gallstones?

About half of those with gallstones have no symptoms and need no treatment. However, if a gallstone escapes from the gallbladder and becomes lodged in the bile ducts it can cause a blockage and pain. The severity of the pain depends upon where the stone lodges and the size of the stone. 

Gallbladder pain is felt as a sharp, severe, stabbing pain often located in the right upper abdomen. Attacks may last 15 minutes to several hours and may be separated by weeks, months, or even years. The pain often occurs after meals, particularly those high fat. Pain may also be felt between the shoulder blades or right shoulder and sometimes in the chest, where it is often confused with a heart attack. There may be associated symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and low-grade fever. Untreated, symptomatic gallstones may damage the pancreas and liver, leading to gallstone pancreatitis and obstructive liver jaundice.

What is the Treatment for Gallstones?

Gallstones not causing symptoms typically don’t need treatment. However, patients experiencing painful gallbladder attacks or other symptoms usually require gallbladder removal surgery. 

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Prevention & Treatment

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

A procedure that uses an ultrasound to examine the GI walls, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and lungs. Learn more about this procedure and schedule an appointment with a Gastro Health physician at a convenient location.

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An imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures within your body.

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