What is a Gallbladder?
Gallbladder is a pear shaped organ found under the liver which stores bile juice that is produced by the liver. The function of bile juice is to help in digestion of fats.
What are gallbladder stones?
Gallstones are made from the precipitation of substances in bile juice. They may vary in number and size. Gallstones are more common in women and people who are overweight. The exact cause for gallstone formation is unknown, however, the risk factors include obesity, excess estrogen (women on oral estrogen pills etc.), cholesterol-lowering drugs, diabetes, rapid weight loss, prolonged fasting, and hereditary blood disorders.
What are the symptoms of gallbladder stones?
Gallstones may be asymptomatic in some people and these stones are referred to as ‘silent stones’. However, when gallstones become symptomatic, the patient is most likely to have severe pain in the right upper abdomen that increases rapidly and lasts from few minutes to several hours. The pain may move in the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. It may be steady, or it may come and go. Gallstone attacks often occur after fatty meals. Other symptoms may include, abdominal bloating, recurring intolerance to fatty foods, belching and indigestion.
Gallstones can cause serious problems if they become trapped in the bile ducts such as jaundice and pancreatitis. Accurate diagnosis is important as symptoms can point towards other problems, including heart attack. Diagnosis can be made in majority of the patients by simple ultrasound conducted in a fasting state.
Gallstones can cause other serious complications such as pus formation in the gallbladder, cholangitis (life threatening infection of biliary system), Gangrene and perforation of the gallbladder.