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Know Everything About Gallstones/Gallbladder stones

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 16 August 2022, Updated on - 19 August 2022

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Do you experience sudden mild pain on the right-hand side of the tummy or pain just below the breast bone? And does the pain usually last for 1 to 5 hours? If yes, it could be due to gallstones in your gallbladder. In this article we will discuss gallbladder stones treatment without operation, gallbladder stone treatment with operation and gallstone operation cost. But before we discuss these, let’s first know what gallstones are, how they develop and who are at risk?

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are formed in the gallbladder when components of bile, such as cholesterol and bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells), aggregate and form stones. The size of the stones varies from being small as a grain to as big as an apricot. Gallstones are thought to develop because of an imbalance in the chemical makeup of bile inside the gallbladder. In some cases, when cholesterol levels are very high the cholesterol itself can form stones and get deposited in the gallbladder.

How long does it take for gallstones to develop?

It takes a few or many years for gallstones to develop and grow. There may be one or many stones the size of gravel, filling the gallbladder. Gall bladder stones are very common and once detected should not be left untreated for a long time. People who experience unbearable pain are likely to have multiple gallstones that can make them prone to sudden gallstone attack which will require gallstone removal either laparoscopically or open surgery However, gallstones that do not cause any signs and symptoms typically don't need treatment, but still it is better to get it checked routinely to avoid emergencies. 

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

Surprisingly gallstones may cause mild pain or no signs and symptoms initially. However, if a gallstones gets stuck in the passage and results in a blockage, then one may experience the following

  • Sudden severe pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
  • Rapidly intensifying pain in the centre of your abdomen
  • Back pain extending to the shoulder blades
  • Pain in your right side of the abdomen

Most-common-symptoms-of-gallstones

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of skin

Note: Gallstone pain may last several minutes to a few hours. Sometimes even causing the patient to immediately get hospitalised.

Who are at risk of getting gallstones?

It has been observed that gender, obesity and medications play a role in making people susceptible in getting gallstones.

  • People over 60
  • Women
  • People who are obese
  • People who take cholesterol lowering drugs
  • People with dyslipidemia
  • People who secrete high amounts of insulin
  • People who consume high fat diet
  • People who take hormonal medication

How are gallstones detected?

Gallstones are detected by a simple blood test that detects enzymes in the liver. Gallstones can be seen during an ultrasound scan which can help the doctor confirm the presence of tiny stones in the gallbladder. They are also visible on CT scans. It is important for the doctor to know the positioning of the gallstones because it determines the treatment plan, whether to treat gallbladder removal without operation or with operation. 

Can gallstones get cured without surgery? 

Yes, tiny gallstones can go away without surgery on its own. This can be achieved by drinking plenty of water, consuming apple cider vinegar, castor oil and performing yoga regularly. All these are known to help in dissolving or flushing out tiny gallstones in the gallbladder, curing the problem. However, if the gallstones are large and too many then the doctor will suggest an operation of the gallbladder.  

How is the gallbladder operated? 

The gallbladder is operated either laparoscopically or with general surgery. In general surgery gallbladder is removed by making a larger incision as compared to laparoscopic surgery which is minimally invasive. In both the types of surgeries the patient recovers within 2-3 weeks and regains normalcy. Patients who undergo laparoscopy recover faster than patients who undergo normal surgery. However, post surgery the patients are recommended to have a low fat diet for lifelong to prevent digestive problems.

What is the cost of laparoscopic gallbladder removal?

The cost of laparoscopic gallbladder removal in India is nominal and ranges between 80,000 to 1,50,000 Rupees. However, this is only an estimation, the actual rates may vary. 

Why should you not leave gallstones untreated?

When gallstones are left untreated, they can cause the bile duct or duodenum to get blocked. This blockage usually interferes with the digestive juices flowing to the pancreas. Over some time, it causes conditions such as jaundice and acute pancreatitis. 

Treatment usually involves medications and the surgical removal of the gallbladder at the earliest. This is because gallstones can cause serious problems, including gallbladder inflammation, blocked bile ducts, infected bile ducts, and gallbladder cancer

1. Gallbladder inflammation (acute cholecystitis) 

This happens when the gallstone ends up blocking the gallbladder which causes pain, fever, nausea and vomitting. This condition may at times cause hospitalisation followed by surgery. 

2. Blocked bile ducts 

This is a serious condition in which the skin turns yellow when a stone blocks the duct to your pancreas leading to pancreatitis. During this phase one experiences fever, chills and vomiting. 

3. Infected bile ducts 

Infected bile duct is also known as acute cholangitis in which the blocked duct gets infected with microorganisms. Furthermore, if the bacteria spreads to the bloodstream it can also cause a very serious condition known as sepsis that requires immediate medical intervention. 

4. Gallbladder cancer

Though it is very rare, gallstones can also lead to gallbladder cancer. One is recommended to seek doctor's advice and not neglect gallstones if they are too many. 

Takeaway

If you have gallstones then immediately start by consulting a general practitioner. Depending upon your condition, you may be referred to a doctor who specialises in dealing with gallstones such as a gastroenterologist/urologist or an abdominal surgeon who will either plan surgical removal of the gallbladder or plan a gallbladder stone treatment without operation. However, do not ignore doctors advice and unnecessarily delay treatment. Doing so may cause severe pain along with an unprecedented gallbladder attack that may lead to hospitalisation. 

Need expert advice?

Consult the Best Gallstone Doctors

 

- Medically Reviewed by Dr. Dhanunjay Reddy B

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