Gallbladder Stones Causes :
There is no clear thought on what exactly leads to the development of gallstones. However, there are a few theories, based on which doctors carry forward the treatment.
Presence of Excessive Cholesterol in Bile : Bile present in gallbladder has the ability to dissolve the cholesterol released by our liver. However, if the quantity of cholesterol released is much more than the bile can process, the excess cholesterol crystallizes and turns into hard yellow coloured stones.
Presence of too much of Bilirubin in Bile : Bilirubin is a chemical produced by the liver on break down of the red blood cells. Sometimes, the liver tends to produce excessive bilirubin due to certain medical conditions like biliary tract infections, liver cirrhosis, and few blood disorders. This excess bilirubin leads to the formation of gallstones.
Gallbladder not working Efficiently : There may be conditions when the gallbladder does not empty completely as it should. In that case, bile gets accumulated and concentrated and leads to stone formation.
Gall Bladder Stone Symptoms :
Often, gallstones do not show any symptoms, but when it gets stuck in the duct, it can cause blockage. In that case, you can experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Sudden acute pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
- Back pain between the shoulder blades
- Pain in the right shoulder
- Dark urine
Gall Bladder Stone Pain :
Gallbladder pain due to stones is sudden and intensifying. One may experience it in the middle or upper right section of the abdomen, or you one may feel pain in the back at the middle of shoulder blades.
This pain may last for a few minutes or a few hours. It may get less intense or disappear to reappear. This pain is probably caused when a gallstone blocks the passage of bile that gets passed through gallbladder to the small intestine.
How Gall Bladder Stones Diagnosed?
- Physical Examination : The doctor will conduct physical examination by checking your eyes and skin for change in colour as a yellowish tint can indicate signs of jaundice.
- Ultrasound : Preferred imaging method to see the presence of gallstones and abnormalities due to acute cholecystitis.
- Abdominal CT Scan : An imaging test that provides images of your liver and abdominal area.
- Gallbladder Radionuclide Scan : Very effective test. It takes around one hour to complete. During this test, a radioactive substance is injected into your veins that travel to the liver and gallbladder via blood. Results of this test suggest the presence of blockage and infection in the bile ducts from stones.
- Blood Tests : Tests the amount of bilirubin and how the liver is functioning.
- Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) : During this procedure, a camera and X-rays are used to determine the problems in the bile a pancreatic duct.
How are Gallstones Treated?
a.) Surgery :
- Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal : During this procedure, the surgeon will make 3-4 incisions in your abdomen. Through these incisions, a small, lighted device is inserted to carefully remove the gallbladder. The patient isrelieved on the same day of the procedure if no further complication is seen.
b.) Nonsurgical Treatments :
- Medication : Due to advanced surgical procedures using laparoscopic and robotic techniques, surgeries are a lot easier and successful these days. Still, if you are not a candidate for surgery due to certain medical complications, doctors may prescribe a few medications that help dissolve these gallstones. But, medications are not commonly recommended as they are not much effective in treating this problem and take years to show results.
c.) Shockwave Lithotripsy :This is a noninvasive technique where a lithotripter is used. This machine creates shock waves to pass through the patient to break gallstones into smaller pieces. But, the gallstones can recur.
Gall Bladder Stone Diet :
It is best to Incorporate Following Foods in Your Diet for a Healthy Gallbladder :
- Dark, leafy greens
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruits
- Low-fat dairy
- Fish and shellfish
Foods Not Good for Your Gallbladder :It is best to avoid the foods which are high in fat and processed foods. Vegetable oils are difficult to break down and cause gallbladder problems.
- Refined white foods (bread, pasta, etc.)
- Vegetable oil
- Processed foods
- Peanut oil
- Foods high in fat
Gall Bladder Stone Risk Factors :
Besides, there are other risk factors which are common to both genders. These are as follows :
- Coronary artery disease
- A history of gallbladder problems; self or in family
- Excess weight
- Rapid weight loss followed by weight gain
- A faulty diet that is high in processed foods, carbohydrates and calories but having lowfibre
- Lactose intolerance
- Having cirrhosis
- Taking certain medications for lowering cholesterol
When to see a doctor?
The Symptoms associated with the condition are as follows :
- Intensifying pain in the upper right side of the abdomen or mid-right back
- Appetite loss
Other conditions that may arise due to untreated gallstones are as follows:
- Pancreas inflammation
- Gallbladder cancer
- Cholangitis, a bile duct infection
- Sepsis, a blood infection
Gall bladder Stones FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) :
Are Gall bladder stones Serious?
A gallstone may cause a serious condition when a small sized stone blocks the bile duct. The conditions may include Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation), Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), Jaundice and/or Cholangitis (inflammation of the liver).
Can Stone be Removed from Gallbladder?
Medications (including Ursodeoxycholic acid), Lithotripsy (breaking down of gallstones through shock waves and Laser), ERS or Endoscopic Retrograde Sphincterotomy (for relief from obstruction), and Cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder) are the methods used for removing gallbladder stones.
What foods to avoid if you have gall bladder stones?
One should avoid food high in cholesterol and fat during the gallstone condition. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean meat/ poultry/ fish, which is high in fiber, is good for gallstone condition.