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What causes gallstones? When should you consider undergoing surgery?

MS, MBBS
General Surgeon, Gurgaon  •  29 years experience
What causes gallstones? When should you consider undergoing surgery?

How and why are gallstones formed?

The bile in your body contains enough chemicals to dissolve cholesterol excreted by your liver. In case your liver starts excreting more cholesterol than your bile has the capability to dissolve, the excess cholesterol crystallizes and forms stones. Bile may become concentrated if the gallbladder doesn't empty in the time leading to the formation of gallstones. A number of factors can increase the risks of formation of gallstones like:

  •  high cholesterol
  •  being obese/overweight
  •  being an American Indian or Mexican American
  •  being female
  •  falling in the age group of 60 or above
  •  a family history of gallstones
  •  rapid weight loss
  •  diabetes
  •  consumption of cholesterol-lowering medications
  •  When should you consider undergoing surgery?

In some cases gallstones that are detected during ct scan or ultrasound (without any symptoms) don't require surgery. If you do not feel aggravating pain in your upper right abdomen or other signs and symptoms, then one can postpone the surgical process according to the need. In few instances, it has been seen that small and solitary gallstones can be dissolved with oral medication like ursodiol and chenodiol. However, you need to opt for surgery to remove the gallbladder necessarily in the following cases-

  •  sudden inflammation or infection in the gallbladder
  •  if you experience recurring instances of intense pain due to the gallstones
  •  certain growths known as polyps develop in your gallbladder which is larger than 1 cm in size and begin to give rise to numerous symptoms.
  •  if you have pancreatitis, which is a condition involving inflammation of pancreas due to gallstones
  •  if the wall of your gallbladder gets calcified
  •  your immune system is damaged
  •  you are experiencing symptoms and your gallbladder has ceased to function


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