Gallstones or gallbladder stones are small, hard deposits which are formed in the gall bladder as a result of the accumulation of digestive fluids. The gallbladder an organ lying on the right side of your abdomen, and below the liver, pear-shaped and small in size. The gallbladder is responsible for holding bile, which is a digestive juice and is later discharged into the small intestine for further digestion. Gallstones can have several sizes ranging from tiny (as small as a grain of sand) to quite large, as big a golf ball. Gallstones can either just be one or may, depending upon the condition of your gall bladder. If people may have an effect on their overall health and day to day activities due to the presence of gallstones, then they may be required to carry get a gallbladder removal surgery done. If gallstones that do not any effect or cause any signs and symptoms, then you may not be required a treatment.
Some gallstones may not have any signs or symptoms. However, once these stones enter the duct, the can cause severe blockage, which may result in the following signs and symptoms may include:
• Abrupt and severe pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
• Abrupt and severe pain around the central abdomen, just below the breastbone
• Intense pain between the shoulder blades
• An ache in the right shoulder
• An intense feeling of nausea and vomiting
The exact causes of gallstones have still not been identified. However, doctors strongly think that the cause of gallstone formation is due to one or more of the following conditions:
• When the bile juice has a lot of cholesterol: If the bile secreted by your liver contains normal quantities of cholesterol, then the chemicals present in your bile should be enough to dissolve and digest the cholesterol. However, if there is an excess quantity present in the cholesterol, then what the bile chemicals can dissolve, it may eventually lead to form crystals which later develop into stones.
• When your bile contains too much bilirubin: Bilirubin is a yellowish compound in the body which is synthesized when the red blood cells in the body break down. If the due to somebody conditions, the amount of bilirubin secreted is higher than normal level, it can lead to gallstone formation.
• Your gallbladder doesn't empty enough: If your gallbladder doesn't empty or discharge completely, then the bile juice may get very concentration, leading to the formation of gallstones.
Apart from causes, there can be a set of factors which increase the risk of formation of gallstones. They are:
• Having a sedentary lifestyle
• Eating a high-fat diet
• Eating high-cholesterol meals
• Eating low fibre diet
• Family has a history of gallstones
• Diabetes or family history of diabetes
• Drastic loss of weight
• Consumption of medications high in estrogen, like oral contraceptives or hormone therapy drugs
• Having liver disease
There are mainly two types of gallstones that can be formed in the gallbladder. They include:
• Cholesterol gallstones: These are the most commonly occurring type of gallstones and have a yellow appearance, composed mainly of undissolved cholesterol.
• Pigment gallstones: These type of gallstones are darker in color either brown or black and are formed as a result of too much bilirubin in the bile.
Most gallstones are removed via a laparoscopic gallbladder removal. The doctor first injects general anaesthesia before making 3 or 4 incisions in the abdomen. Through this incisions, the doctor inserts a small, tube-like device called laparoscope to view the gallstone and then carefully removes your gallbladder. You may experience loose or watery stools after gallbladder removal. Removing a gallbladder involves rerouting the bile from the liver to the small intestine. Bile no longer goes through the gallbladder and it becomes less concentrated. The result is a laxative effect that causes diarrhoea. To treat this, eat a diet lower in fats so that you release less bile.
Since the gallstone surgery recovery is minimally invasive, the recovery is much faster and less painful than the conventional open surgery.
You will be discharged the same day and can resume the activities in about a week as compared to the open surgery where the recovery may take a month at a minimum.
Although the risk of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is very low., however, some risks and complications may arise in a few exceptional cases. They include:
• Infection or pain at the site of the incision
• Internal bleeding
• Bile duct injury
• Injury to small intestine due to surgical equipments
• Allergy to general anaesthesia