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Gallstones

In medicine gallstones (choleliths) are crystalline bodies formed within the body by accretion or concretion of normal or abnormal bile components. They commonly contain lumps of cholesterol-like (fatty) material that has solidified and hardened. It is connected to the liver and the intestine by a series of small tubes, or ducts. Bile is a watery liquid made by the cells of the liver that is important for digesting food in the intestine, particularly fat. But some people with gallstones will have a gallbladder attack that can cause symptoms such as nausea and an intense, steady ache in their upper middle or upper right abdomen. The bile then flows within the intrahepatic bile ducts out of the liver and into the extrahepatic bile ducts-first into the hepatic bile ducts, then into the common hepatic duct, and finally into the common bile duct. Most gallstones are made up of cholesterol , chalk (calcium carbonate), calcium bilirubinate, or a mixture of these. They are more likely to occur if the composition of the bile is abnormal, if the outlet from the gallbladder is blocked or has a local infection, or if there is a family history of gallstones. Gallstones affect as many as one in 12 Americans. You're at greater risk of developing gallstones if you're older, female or overweight. Rapid weight loss or eating a very low calorie diet also can put you at risk of gallstones. Complications from gallstones can be serious, and even fatal, if left untreated. Fortunately, treatment is usually straightforward, and newer techniques often allow faster recovery time.

The gallbladder is a small sac lying on the underside of the liver. Gallstones form when substances in the bile, primarily cholesterol and bile pigments, form hard, crystal-like particles. Cholesterol stones are usually white or yellow in color and account for about 80 percent of gallstones. Pigment stones are small, dark stones made of bilirubin and calcium salts that are found in bile. Risk factors for pigment stones include cirrhosis, biliary tract infections, and hereditary blood cell disorders, such as sickle cell anemia. Stones of mixed origin also occur. They are more common in women than in men and about 1 in 10 older adults have gallstones. Stones that continue to block the drainage of bile can cause inflammation or infection of the gall bladder and bile ducts, jaundice and acute pancreatitis . Gallstones vary in size and may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. During a meal, the muscle that makes up the wall of the gallbladder contracts and squeezes the concentrated bile in the gallbladder back through the cystic duct into the common duct and then into the intestine. Gallstones usually form in the gallbladder; however, they also may form anywhere there is bile--in the intrahepatic, hepatic, common bile, and cystic ducts. Gallstones also may move about within bile, for example, from the gallbladder into the cystic or common duct.

Causes of Gallstones

The common Causes of Gallstones :

  • Contraction of the blocked gallbladder causes increased pressure, swelling, and, at times, infection of the gallbladder.
  • As the stones mix with liquid bile, they can block the outflow of bile from the gallbladder. They can also block outflow of digestive enzymes from the pancreas.
  • Liver disease that reduces the levels of bile salts.
  • This inflammation can cause destruction of the pancreas and severe abdominal pain .
  • Female sex
  • Being overweight
  • A genetic disorder featuring excessive cholesterol in the blood (hypercholesterolaemia)
  • Advancing age

Symptoms of Gallstones

Some Symptoms of Gallstones :

  • Chills
  • Intolerance for fatty or greasy foods
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes)
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Indigestion, belching, bloating

Treatment of Gallstones

  • Symptomatic gallstones are best treated surgically, a procedure called Cholecystectomy or removal of gallbladder
  • Analgesics (painkillers) would be required
  • Drugs made from bile acid are used to dissolve the stones.
  • Asolution injected into the gallbladder to dissolve stones.
  • An experimental procedure that involves injecting a drug directly into the gallbladder to dissolve the stones.

 


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