As the name suggests, gallstones are a condition in which stones form in your gallbladder. These stones are basically hardened deposits of various digestive fluids. The stones can form in a range of sizes, from as big as a golf ball to smaller than a grain of rice. Naturally, this condition is quite painful. The symptoms include pain all over the abdomen, the back, and even between your shoulder blades and this can be a very harrowing experience for the person going through it.
There is one main line of treatment for gallstones and that is to remove the gallbladder entirely. This is done through surgery. However, this only happens if your gallstones begin to cause problems and interfere with your health. Many people out there have gallstones but since they don’t suffer from any problems, the condition does not need to be treated at all.
There are also oral medications that can be prescribed in order to dissolve and clear up the gallstones. These are usually given in milder cases. When the cases progress and the patient begins to experience major problems with their gallstones, then surgery is the only option.
The first step to the treatment is the diagnosis. The process of getting diagnosed is fairly simple. A technician will take pictures of your gallbladder to get an idea of the kinds of stones there are. Then, pictures of your bile duct will also be taken to confirm whether or not there are gallstones present over there as well. There may also be blood tests to determine whether or not there are any other complications from the gallstones. Once all of this is done, your treatment can begin.
As stated earlier, for cases of gallstones where no symptoms or discomfort is caused, no treatment is required. You will be asked to keep an eye out for any symptoms but other than that, there will be no medication. With mild cases of gallstones, you will be given oral medication to help dissolve the stones within your body. However, it is important to note that these may take years to dissolve and can reoccur.
The surgical procedure for removing gallbladder stones is known as cholecystectomy. Once the gallbladder is taken out of the body, the digestive juices and bile flow into your intestine directly from the liver. The surgery lasts a few hours and you will be hospitalized for a few days afterward. The exact number of days will depend on your medical history and whether or not you experience any complications after the surgery.
Anyone who has stones in their gallbladder can opt to get the treatment done.
If you do not have stones in your gallbladder, it is not advisable for you to get the organ removed from your body. If you are experiencing pain or any of the other symptoms of having gallbladder stones without actually having the stones, your doctor will run more tests to find out what the problem is.
From the point of view of the way your body functions, your digestive system will remain unharmed after the surgery. It can function normally, with the exception that the bile will reach the small intestine directly from the liver instead of being passed through the gallbladder first. There are a few side effects to having surgery that one can be vary of. These include bruising and swelling, pain, and an infection at the site of the surgery if the wound was not closed properly.
After surgery, a combination of rest and exercise is very important. Though you will be bed ridden, you will also be encouraged to walk a little in the hospital. This is because the quicker you are on your feet, the faster your body will heal.
On an average, it takes about two weeks to recover from the stress of a surgery. The pain should begin to subside and your body should begin its natural healing process.
Surgery can be very expensive, depending on the city you live in and the hospital where you are getting the surgery done. Getting your gall bladder removed can range in cost from Rs. 1,50,000 – Rs. 4,00,000.
Removing the gallbladder from the body is one way to ensure that you will never get gallstones again. Thus, the treatment is permanent.
Gallstones do not have any alternate treatments. If the symptoms are bad enough for you to see a doctor, then you must do so.