What are gallstones?
Gallstones are hard lumps which develop in the gallbladder. They can be made from bile pigment, calcium, oxalate or other solid material. The gallbladder is found under the liver, below the ribs on the right hand side of your abdomen.
What symptoms do gallstones cause?
Gallstones most commonly do not cause any symptoms at all. The most common symptom is pain in the top of the abdomen. This pain is typically colicky and last 20 to 30 minutes, but may be prolonged if the gallbladder becomes inflamed. The pain often follows rich and fatty food. Other less common symptoms of gallstones include fever, nausea and vomiting.
How are gallstones diagnosed?
Gallstones are seen easily on an ultrasound scan or CT. Occasionally, if the stones are very small, gallbladder function tests can be helpful in diagnosing gallbladder pain.
This is a condition that mimics gallstones and causing a significant amount of symptoms in the abdomen, often related to eating, with bloating and pain. This functional disorder of the gallbladder is a motility disorder caused initially either by metabolic abnormalities or by a primary motility change. Confirming the diagnosis requires specialist experience.
How are gallstones treated?
If they are not causing symptoms, no specific gallstones treatment is needed. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the operation of choice for symptomatic gallstones.