Gall Stones

Gall bladder is a small bag like organ just below the liver. Liver secretes bile, the gall bladder stores and concentrates bile.

Sometimes stones form within this bag; these are called as gall stones.

How are these stones formed?
Though there is no definite cause, following may be the reasons.

  • Higher concentration of cholesterol within the bile forms cholesterol crystals.
  • Reduced contracting power of gall bladder (Age related or some other cause) causes bile to stay long in the gall bladder, thus leading to stone formation.
  • Medicines which reduces bile acid (e.g. contraceptive pills) causes desaturation of bile and precipitates solids.
  • Infection within the gall bladder can form nidus for stone formation.

How does one know he has gall stones?
Any person having long standing abdominal discomfort, feeling of fullness, nausea, vomiting, pain below right rib should see a surgeon for further investigations.

Is it necessary to treat gall stones?
Many patients stay asymptomatic for a long time, so gall bladder surgery is not an emergency in most of the cases.

However some of the gall stones tend to give rise to life threatening complications which are difficult, costly and time consuming to treat. So in a modern era of busy life it is better to treat gall stones at earliest convenient time as planned surgery is fairly safe and offers permanent cure

What are the complications of untreated gall stones?

  • If the stone gets stuck at the neck of gall bladder, it can give rise to severe pain, fever and in worst cases can form abscess or even perforation gall bladder. The infection can spread into rest of the body causing septicemia which can be life threatening.
  • If stone travels down in the bile duct it can cause obstructive jaundice which has to be treated by an additional procedure called as ERCP or a major open surgical procedure.

What is the treatment for gall stones?
The recommended treatment by modern medicine is a minimally invasive surgical procedure called as laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In this procedure, tiny holes are made over the tummy and a camera is introduced into the abdomen and surgery is performed by looking at the monitor In an uncomplicated disease, the procedure is fairly simple and requires a hospital stay for around 12-24 hrs after surgery.

Does removal of gall bladder make any difference to the person?
Gall bladder is not an essential organ for humans, and in a patient with gall stone it is a pathological (Diseased) gall bladder which is removed. So removal does not make any difference to the person.