Gallbladder stones can lead to dangerous inflammations which will have to urgently be surgically treated
One of the most common problems with the digestive system is the gallbladder stone. It usually appears in women, people with diabetes as well as well as women on hormone therapy. High risk groups also include inactive people, obese, as well as people with high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol as well as people who are on diets or are losing body weight rapidly. It is believed that around 36% of the population in the USA have gallbladder stones and most of them are unaware of this as they have no evident problems. Typical symptoms if they appear can be sharp pains in the area under the ribs on the right side. Pains can also appear in the back and can be followed with nausea and vomiting. We have consulted several experts on this issue and here are their answers.
How are these stones formed?
The gallbladder stone is formed following disorders with the discharging mechanism, insufficient discharging as well as a chemical imbalance in the gallbladder itself. The causes for this can be caused by many factors included genetics. There are two types of stones cholesterol and pigment stones.
Cholesterol stones are usually yellow-green are by far the more common type, appearing in 80 % of patients. It is believed that this type of stones form due to the high contents of cholesterol and bilirubin in the bile and insufficient levels of bile salt or the gall bladder does not discharge properly.
Pigments stones are small and dark and consist of bilirubin. It is still not clear why these stones are formed and it is most common in those patients suffering from cirrhosis or an infection of the bile canals or in patients who are suffering from congenital blood disorders. Gall bladder stones can be small as a grain of sand but they can be larger than an inch they can be round but with irregular forms.
Most common risk factors:
- Obesity is a major risk factor for gallstones, especially in women aged 20 to 60 years. It is assumed that the reason is the fact that gaining extra pounds reduces the amount of bile salts, which leads to increase cholesterol further, reducing the ability of the gallbladder to discharge.
- Pregnancy An increase of cholesterol stones in pregnancy has been noticed, which is caused by the hormonal changes in the body during pregnancies.
- Medications Various medications can be listed but the most frequent culprit is estrogen (in contraceptives), and medications that lower the levels of blood cholesterol which in doing so increase the amount of cholesterol is excreted in the bile.
- Diabetes People suffering from diabetes tend to have high levels of triglycerides in the blood, which can also be a prerequisite for the disease of the digestive tract.
- Sudden weight loss Rapid loss of body weight can cause the liver to excrete additional cholesterol, which can cause the formation of gall stones.
Basic inflammatory conditions that can cause changes in the gallbladder are both the acute and chronic cholecystitis, in other words an inflammation of the gallbladder wall, also caused by the stones inside it, which interfere with normal functions of the gallbladder. The gallbladder stones can cause inflammation along the entire gall system, as well as a very dangerous inflammation of the pancreas – due to the anatomical relationship with the pancreatic duct. Symptoms that warn us to this situation are: fever, jaundice, and persistent pain in the upper abdomen and especially under the right rib cage, where the gallbladder and sometimes below the right shoulder blade on the back. A Gallbladder attack usually occurs after a fatty meal, and during the night. There is also bloating, heartburn and burping. The feces are bright as a lemon, and the urine dark similar to beer.
- Surgical removal of the gallbladder is often applied, and the most successful therapy. Patients usually feel good after surgery, and complications are very rare. In the case of the classical surgery – a surgeon removes the entire gallbladder through an incision in the abdomen, and the patient will need to be hospitalized four to five days, after which several weeks of recovery at home follow.
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy lately more modern, less invasive methods are used – laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomen, and then inserts a small video camera and surgical instruments through them, a so-called probe. All of this is monitored on a screen, the gallbladder is removed by the inserted probe through the tiny opening in the abdomen. Since the abdominal muscles are not cut, postoperative pains are not as severe, the healing process is more rapid, and the aesthetic results are better. The patient usually leaves the hospital after 24 hours, to resume normal activities within a couple of days.
- Non-surgical treatment of this disease has much less success. These treatment methods are much less recommended, and relapses are very frequent (re-emergence of the stone). Stone Dissolution therapy by orally consumed medications consisting of gall acid are often long-term and do not give good results, so that’s rarely recommended.