Gallstones
Monday, July 6, 2009

It is estimated that about 20 million Americans have gallstones, but often there are no symptoms. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about gallstones in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Gallstones are made of cholesterol and other substances that form in the gallbladder, a small sac located just under the liver. They also can migrate to the common bile duct, the tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine.

Gallstones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as two inches. Most gallstones do not cause any problems. They can block the cystic duct or common bile duct and cause acute gallbladder inflammation or cholecystitis.

Most people with gallstones have no symptoms. When gallstones cause blockage and inflammation, patients can have nausea, abdominal pain, particularly after eating, and fever.  The pain is typically in the right upper abdomen.

Gallstones that cause obstruction and inflammation of the gallbladder need to be removed. The stones blocking the common duct can be removed by an endoscope passed down the mouth and into the common duct. The gallbladder is then removed surgically, either with a laparoscope or an open procedure.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.