What are gallstones?

Gallstones are crystal-like deposits that develop in the gallbladder. The function of the gallbladder is to store bile, a digestive juice produced by the liver. Bile is required to digest a fatty meal. Gallstones are very common, and affect 20% of the world population.

What causes gallstones?

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

Over a period of five years, approximately 10% of people with stones will develop symptoms. Symptoms only occur when there is a temporary obstruction of the outflow tract of the gallbladder, by a stone. When such obstruction occurs, you might experience the following:

How are gallstones treated?

Many of those with gallstones may never realise that they have them. Investigations such as Ultrasound examination or x-ray of the Gall Bladder will demonstrate the stones.

Those who experience frequent attacks of painful inflammation or infection as a result of the stones may be advised to have a cholecystectomy (Gall Bladder removal). This may be performed conventionally or by "key-hole " surgery where the surgeon uses a small telescope through a small incision in the right upper abdomen to remove the offending stones and gall bladder. This results in shorter hospitalisation and convalescence. The use of shock waves has also proven very successful - gallstones are fragmented by shock waves delivered through water.

Can I prevent gallstones?

How does the future look?

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