What You Need To Know About Gallstones


ID-100126484Gallstones, also known as cholelithiasis, are a condition that most people are probably vaguely familiar with, but their knowledge on the subject tends to fluctuate. Gallstones are deposits of digestive fluid that hardens and forms in the gallbladder – which is a pear-shaped organ found underneath the liver (in your upper-right abdomen). The function of the gallbladder is to store the bile that releases into your small intestine – this bile aides in the digestion of food. Gallstones tend to be caused when individuals who are overweight lose weight quickly, or in other instances in which the gallbladder is not emptying as it should.

Luckily, the majority of people with gallstones do not have any symptoms, so they will not need treatment. This type of gallstone condition is known as “silent gallstones” and is usually only discovered when an individual is undergoing an ultrasound or some other kind of scan for other medical-related reasons. However, a small percentage of the million or so Americans who are diagnosed with gallstones each year do experience symptoms that can really interrupt their daily routines, symptoms include:

  • Pain under the ribs/upper right side of the stomach
  • Pain that comes on quickly and can spread to the upper back/shoulder
  • Pain that makes it difficult to take deep breaths
  • Pain that lasts from 15 minutes to 24 hours
  • Pain that can begin at night and wake you up
  • Pain that occurs after eating

Symptoms of gallstones should be taken very seriously because not only are they capable of increasing in severity, but they can also escalate into serious complications.

If an individual has gallstones and is experiencing painful symptoms, then the likely course of treatment is a Cholecystectomy. A Cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder – it can be done laparascopically or via an incision in the abdomen. Oral dissolution therapy is also a possible treatment option in some cases of gallstones. In this instance, patients would take a medication that dissolves the cholesterol found in gallstones and helps break them down. For more information on gallstones, to talk about your symptoms, or to discuss treatment options, please contact a specialist at San Francisco Gastroenterology.

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