Gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder. In most cases they don't cause any symptoms and don't need to be treated. Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time. Some people with gallstones can also develop complications, such as inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), which can cause:
• persistent pain
• a fever
HOW IS GALLSTONES DIAGNOSED?
Tests used to detect gallstones or gallbladder inflammation include:
• Ultrasound, abdomen
• CT scan, abdomen
• Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
• Gallbladder radionuclide scan
• Endoscopic ultrasound
• Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)
• Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTCA)
• Liver function tests
• Pancreatic enzymes
HOW IS GALLSTONES TREATED?
Treatment involves a laparoscopic cholecystectomy and open cholecystectomy. If the gallstones are in the bile duct, then the doctor may perform an ERCP to remove them before or during a gallbladder surgery.
DID YOU KNOW?
Gallstones are rarely threatening but in some cases they could be the early signs of cancer.