07 May
Gallstones are small, pebble-like substances that develop in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac located below your liver in the right upper abdomen and store bile. Bile is produced in the liver, stored in the gallbladder and flows into the intestine to help the body digest fats.

gallstones pic

What causes gallstones?

Gallstones form when bile crystallizes into stones. Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.

Gallstones form when component of bile are not balance. This happens when bile contains too much cholesterol, or too much yellow pigment bilirubin, or not enough bile salts, or when the gallbladder does not empty completely or often enough. The reason these imbalances occur is not known.

Who is at risk for gallstones?

People at risk for gallstones are:
• women—especially those who are pregnant, use hormone replacement therapy, or take birth control pills 
• people over age 60 
• overweight or obese men and women 
• people who fast or lose a lot of weight quickly 
• people with a family history of gallstones 
• people with diabetes

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

During the digestion, gallbladder contracts and empties the bile via the bile ducts into the intestine (duodenum). If gallbladder contains stones, they may move during this process and patient experiences a typical attack of colicky biliary pain. This often follows fatty meals, and it may occur during the night. A typical attack of biliary colic may last several hours and may be associated with nausea and vomiting.  If gallstones move from the gallbladder into the bile ducts and create blockage, patient experience sever pain, may turn yellow and develop fever.

People with any of the following symptoms should see a doctor immediately:

• prolonged pain—more than 5 hours 
• nausea and vomiting 
• fever—even low-grade—or chills and rigors
• yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes

Most people with gallstones have no symptoms; these gallstones are called “silent stones” and they do not need any treatment.

How are gallstones diagnosed?

• Gallstones are usually discovered during tests for other health conditions.
• When gallstones are suspected to be the cause of symptoms, an ultrasound scan is the most sensitive and specific test. 
• Computerized tomography (CT) scan. 
• Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is used to locate and remove the stones from the bile duct.
• Blood tests are not able to diagnose gallstones. They may be performed to look for signs of infection, blockage, pancreatitis or jaundice.

Who need treatment for gallstones?

Gallstones which were incidentally found health screening tests and do not cause any symptoms or problems, do not require any treatment.

How are gallstones treated?


If you are having frequent attacks of pain, your doctor will likely recommend you removal of gallbladder by operation called laparoscopic cholecystectomy.


If stones escaped from gallbladder into the bile ducts and causing a blockage, they may be located and removed by ERCP before gallbladder surgery.

gallstones pic 02

Can people live normal after the surgery without their gallbladder?

The gallbladder is an organ people can live without. Your liver produces enough bile to digest a normal diet. Once the gallbladder is removed, bile flows out of the liver through the bile ducts into the small intestine, instead of being stored in the gallbladder.

Dr. Andrea

Dr. Andrea Rajnakova is our Consultant Gastroenterologist and Physician.

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