Biliary Tract Disorders: Gallstones
Gallstones form in the gallbladder, which is located just beneath the liver. Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid. Gallstones are removed by surgery. Gallbladder produces bile and releases it into the small intestine.
It is considered that gallstones are formed due to too much of cholesterol and bilirubin in bile. If the bile doesn’t get emptied, it leads to concentration and formation of gallstones. Gallstones are of two types, cholesterol gallstones and pigment (bilirubin) gallstones.
When the gallstones lodges in the bile duct and causes a blockage, the person experiences sudden and intense pain in the center of the abdomen, back and shoulder pain.
RISK FACTORS AND COMPLICATIONS
A number of factors lead to the development of gallstones. Some of the prominent factors that pose the risk of gallstones are, being overweight, high cholesterol and low fiber diet, uncontrolled diabetes, and cholesterol lowering medications. The presence of gallstones leads to complications like, inflammation of the gallbladder, and blockage of bile and pancreatic ducts. Gallstones enhance the risk of gallbladder cancer.
TESTS & DIAGNOSIS
If there are any symptoms of gallstones, the doctor may advice for abdominal ultrasound and CT scan to create pictures of the gallbladder. An MRI and ERCP may also be recommended to determine the blockage of bile duct, and the presence of gallstones. Blood tests are also done to check the presence of any infections, jaundice, pancreatitis and other complications.
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
Based on the symptoms and diagnosis of gallstones, the doctor recommends for gallbladder surgery. During the surgery the gallbladder is completely removed. The bile from the liver isn’t stored in the gallbladder; it is channeled directly to the small intestine. The removal of gallbladder does not affect digestion of food; however there may be few instances of diarrhea, which is often temporary.
Medications are also advised for gallstones, the effectiveness of which may be seen over a long period of time. Medications are advised for gallstones only when patients have other complications, and are not ready for gallbladder surgery.