Gall Stone Disease

Gall Stone Disease

Overview

The gall bladder is a pear-shaped sac located under the liver, on the right-hand side of the body. Due to chemical imbalance, the digestive fluids get hardened like stones causing Gall stone disease. Sometimes these stones do not cause any pain and go unnoticed for extended periods.

Signs and symptoms

Gall stone disease causes a sharp sudden pain beneath the ribs on the right-hand side, pain in the right shoulder, back pain near the right-side shoulder blades, nausea, restlessness, sweating.

Causes and risk factors

The reasons why chemical imbalance occurs in few people leading to gall stone formation is not clear. There are two types of Gall stones, one condition where the excess cholesterol in the bile leads to imbalance and stone formation; the other when the bile production is in excess due to other underlying conditions like infected bile tubes, liver infections or anaemia. Obesity and visceral fat growth lead to higher chances of gallstone formation, especially in women.

Complications

Gall stone disease has serious complications in the case of people with a family history of the disease, or who have conditions of liver disease, are diabetic, are obese and experience sudden weight loss. Gall stones can also cause blockage of the bile duct that can lead to jaundice. It is important to seek medical attention with the onset of the early symptoms.

Diagnosis

For diagnosing infections, blood tests are done; Abdominal ultrasound is done using a transducer on the stomach, Endoscopic ultrasound is done where a thin tube is sent through the mouth; imaging tests like Cholangiography where a chemical dye is injected into the blood for diagnosing through ERCP or X-rays, non-invasive CT scan and Cholscintigraphy where safe radio-active materials are injected into the gall bladder to identify any blocks of the bile ducts or abnormal contractions.

Surgery

Removal of the gall bladder surgically is known as cholecystectomy, either through less invasive keyhole surgery or through an open surgery, where a large incision is made under the abdomen; dissolution of cholesterol-based gallstones is done using ursodeoxycholic acid; Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is the treatment where an endoscope is inserted, and the bile duct is widened using heated wires to enable the passage of gall stones.

Prevention

Gall stones disease depends on several unavoidable factors like age and ethnicity. Controlling body weight without adopting drastic weight changing diets; maintaining a vegetarian diet with high dietary fibres, and a balanced lifestyle all help to prevent gall stone disease.

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