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Gallstones

Gallstones: Introduction

Gallstones are a common condition of the biliary tract of the digestive system. Gallstones are hard deposits that are similar to pebbles or stones that can develop in the gallbladder. They can be tiny, like a grain of sand, to quite large in size, such as a golf ball.

Sometimes gallstones can remain in the gallbladder or pass through the cystic duct and the common bile duct with causing any symptoms of problems. Gallstones can also become lodged within a duct and cause pain, illness and possibly complications.

The gallbladder is an organ that is a part of the digestive system and is located in the upper right side of the abdomen under the liver. The pear-shaped gallbladder is a hollow sac that concentrates and stores the digestive substance bile, which is produced by the liver.

Bile flows from the liver into the gallbladder for storage. When food is eaten, the gallbladder squeezes the stored bile into the cystic duct and down the common bile duct into the duodenum of the small intestine where bile works to help digest food.

When a gallstone or gallstones in the gallbladder cause inflammation or passes out of the gallbladder and becomes trapped or stuck in the cystic duct, it is called cholecystitis. When a gallstone or gallstones passes out of the gallbladder and becomes trapped or stuck in the common bile duct, it is called choledocholithiasis.

Gallstones that cause these conditions can result such symptoms as severe epigastric pain, abdominal pain, ride sided abdominal pain, and/or pain that radiates around the right rib cage and into the back. A commonly used general term used for the pain caused by gallstones is biliary colic. Other typical symptoms include nausea and vomiting.

Some people with gallstones may have no symptoms or problems at all. However, in some cases, gallstones can result in serious, even life-threatening complications, such as pancreatitis, biliary cirrhosis, peritonitis and cholangitis. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of gallstones.

Making a diagnosis of gallstones begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms. A physical examination is also performed, which may reveal severe tenderness of the upper right abdomen.

Diagnostic testing may include imaging, such as ultrasound scan, which will detect and locate any gallstones. A nuclear scan called a hepatobiliary scan can check for any obstruction of the gallbladder. A CT of the abdomen may also be done.

Blood tests called liver function tests may be performed to determine the level of functioning of the liver. Blood tests may also be done to help determine the health of the pancreas, which can be seriously affected by gallstones that cause pancreatitis.

It is possible that a diagnosis of gallstones can be missed because some people have no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may be attributed to other conditions with similar symptoms. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of gallstones.

The treatment for gallstones involves a multifaceted approach. Treatment plans vary depending on the severity of the symptoms, the presence of complications, and an individual's medical history. Gallstones that are causing pain or biliary colic are treated with pain medications, and surgery may be recommended to have the gallstones and gallbladder removed. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of gallstones....more »

Gallstones: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of gallstones may be delayed or missed because some symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting can attributed to many other conditions as such as gastroenteritis, heart attack, hiatal hernia, indigestion or peptic ulcer. It is important to seek prompt medical care if you experience any symptoms of gallstones and not assume that they are due ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Gallstones:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Gallstones. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Gallstones: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Gallstones: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Gallstones, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

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Gallstones Treatments

The goals of treatment of gallstones are to control symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, and minimize the risk of developing serious complications, such as pancreatitis, biliary cirrhosis, and cholangitis. The most effective treatment plan for gallstones uses a multifaceted approach and varies depending on the number and ...Gallstones Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Gallstones may include:

Review further information on Gallstones Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Gallstones

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Gallstones may include:

Stories from Users for Gallstones

Real-life user stories relating to Gallstones:

Gallstones: Animations

Medications or substances causing Gallstones:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Gallstones as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Gallstones: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Gallstones may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Gallstones

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Gallstones:

Gallstones: Deaths

Read more about causes and Gallstones deaths.

Causes of Gallstones listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Gallstones as a symptom include:

Article Excerpts about Gallstones

Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. The liquid, called bile, is used to help the body digest fats. Bile is made in the liver, then stored in the gallbladder until the body needs to digest fat. At that time, the gallbladder contracts and pushes the bile into a tube—called a duct—that carries it to the small intestine, where it helps with digestion.

Bile contains water, cholesterol, fats, bile salts, and bilirubin. Bile salts break up fat, and bilirubin gives bile and stool a brownish color. If the liquid bile contains too much cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin, it can harden into stones. (Source: excerpt from Gallstones: NIDDK)

Gallstones are clumps of solid material that form in the gallbladder. They may occur as a single, large stone or many small ones. Gallstones are a mixture of compounds, but typically they are mostly cholesterol. (Source: excerpt from Dieting and Gallstones: NIDDK)

Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. Gallstones form when substances in the bile, primarily cholesterol and bile pigments, form hard, crystal-like particles. (Source: excerpt from Gallstones: NWHIC)

Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like... (Source: excerpt from Gallstones: NIDDK)

Gallstones are clumps of solid material that form in the gallbladder. They may occur as a single, large stone or... (Source: excerpt from Dieting and Gallstones: NIDDK)

Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. ... (Source: excerpt from Gallstones: NWHIC)

Definitions of Gallstones:

Presence or formation of GALLSTONES in the BILIARY TRACT, usually in the gallbladder (CHOLECYSTOLITHIASIS) or the common bile duct (CHOLEDOCHOLITHIASIS).
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Detailed list of causes of Gallstones

The list below shows some of the causes of Gallstones mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Gallstones?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Gallstones. Of the 43 causes of Gallstones that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 1 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "common" diseases
  • 5 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 2 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 38 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Gallstones:

The following list of conditions have 'Gallstones' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Gallstones or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Gallstones:

The following list of medical conditions have Gallstones or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

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What are the alternative names for Gallstones:

Gallbladder calculus, Cholelithiasis, Biliary colic
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Classifications of Gallstones:

Medical Conditions associated with Gallstones:

Gall bladder symptoms (44 causes), Upper abdominal symptoms (2707 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes)

Symptoms related to Gallstones:

Gall bladder symptoms (44 causes), Biliary symptoms, Bile duct symptoms, Clofibrate, Combined oral contraceptive pill, Cystic fibrosis, Erythropoietic protoporphyria, Haemoglobin E disease, Haemolytic anaemia (81 causes), Hereditary spherocytosis, Hypercalcaemia (42 causes), Lanreotide

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

These general medical articles may be of interest:

Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Gallstones:

More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:

 

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