Gallbladder is a pear shaped organ that lies close to the liver. Its function is to store and concentrate bile juice which is produced in the liver. It does not produce bile as many people think. Gallstones are pebble-like deposits that form inside the gallbladder. There are mainly two types of gallstones:
- Stones made of cholesterol which are the most common. Many people have misconception about these stones that they have some relation with cholesterol levels but this is not true at all.
- Stones made of bilirubin, which can occur when red blood cells are being destroyed (hemolysis). This condition leads to excessive bilirubin in the bile. These stones are called pigment stones.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of gallstones is abdominal pain particular on the right upper side. The easiest ways to detect gallstone is X-ray, Ultrasound, abdominal CT scan etc. Most common signs and symptoms of gallstones are:
- Constant or frequent pain in the right upper or middle upper abdomen
- Yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes (Jaundice)
- Clay-colored stools
- Nausea and vomiting
Causes of Gallstones
There could be various causes of gallstones.
- Gender: Women between 20 and 60 years of age are twice as likely to develop gallstones as men.
- Age: Practically all age groups but more common in the 30's & 40's.
- Excess estrogen (women on oral contraceptive pills etc.)
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Rapid weight loss
- Prolonged fasting
- Hereditary blood disorders
- Unknown geological factors such as gallstones are much more common in northern and eastern part of India.
Gallstones are not found until one goes for an ultrasound. Surgery is primarily not chosen as an option unless symptoms begin to appear.
- Spider system is used for the first time in Asia Pacific by Dr. Pradeep Chowbey. This is one of its kind virtually scarless surgical techniques which give excellent cosmetic results.
- Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy (removal of gall bladder along with stones) – This is the most commonly used treatment option and involves making small surgical incisions thus ensuring faster recovery. Patients are often discharged from the hospital on the same day as surgery, or the next morning.