Gallstones are solid particles created in the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver responsible for storing bile. Bile is a digestive fluid produced in the lever and its flow is interrupted by these gallstones as it flows to intestines. These are not proper stones but any hard substance that may contain cholesterol, salt or unwanted red blood cells. They vary in different sizes and can be further categorized into two types:
- Cholesterol stones: These greenish yellow colored are the most prominent gallstones which are formed when Gall bladder is unable to dissolve.
- Pigment stones: These are made from the fluid which is created in the liver and is stored in the gallbladder. These are rarely found which are much smaller and darker in color than the cholesterol stones.
Causes of Gallstones
As per a trusted gastroenterologist from PSRI Hospital in New Delhi, below mentioned are the main causes of gallbladder stones –
- Excessive cholesterol: A gallbladder contains the fluid called as Bile which is produced by the liver. Situation where the liver emits higher levels of cholesterol than the capacity of bile to dissolve it, solid particles are formed. These hardened substances are termed as gallstones.
- Bilirubin: It is a chemical produced when the old red blood cells in the body are destroyed by the liver. In some cases, excessive bilirubin is discharged by the liver and the inability of the gallbladder to dispose of such unwanted discharge leads to formation of pigment stones.
- Improper working of gallbladder: The gallbladder may fail to completely wipe out the Bile accumulated inside which can result in the formation of solid particles called gallstones.
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Risk Factors for Gallstones
Some of the factors discussed below contribute substantially towards developing Gallstones-
- Being overweight: Most prominent cause for gallstones, it is basically cause by cholesterol level shooting up making it hard for gallbladder to empty itself.
- Diabetes patient: According to recent studies, people suffering from diabetes are also at greater risk.
- Taking medicines: Medications to control cholesterol may enhance chances of creating cholesterol stones. Also, during pregnancy there is chances of increase in cholesterol due to medicines intake which can trigger gallstones formation.
Apart from above, following factors also increase possibilities of having gallstones-
- High intake of fiber enriched food
- Fasting too much
- Family history of suffering from this ailment
- Age above 60 years
Diagnosis & Treatment for Gallstones
Some symptoms of this ailment include recurring stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea etc. In extreme cases there is a complete blockage in the flow of bile which results in acute pain in stomach or back, loss in appetite, backing fever. This needs instant medication and such pain can last even more than three hours.
To ascertain the magnitude of the gallstones some blood tests followed by Ultrasound or CT Scan may be instructed by the doctor. Some of the common tests or ultrasounds conducted include MRCP, HIDA scan, Endoscopic ultrasound and ERCP.
Once properly diagnosed, a gallbladder removal surgery is needed to remove the gallstones and there are primarily two types of surgeries:
- Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: This is the most widely used procedure. In this suregry small cuts are made in the body to remove the Gallstones. The patient is generally discharged from the hospital after one day from the surgery.
- Open cholecystectomy: Bigger incisions are made in the body to remove Gallstones or even the whole Gallbladder.
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Dietary Changes after Surgery
Some dietary changes to implement after the surgery to minimize the negative impact on the body include:
- Avoid high fat enriched food.
- Avoid caffeine and sugary products.
- Increase fiber intake in the meals.
- Restrict drinks and food that can cause diarrhea.
- Take small meals than larger ones as they are easy to digest.
Watch Dr. Ashok Mittal talk about Gall Bladder Stones Causes and Treatment in Hindi