What you need to know about gallbladder stones

Gallbladder is a reservoir sac inside the abdomen, adjacent to liver and connected to the small intestine. Gallbladder stores the bile produced by liver cells. The bile is the main secretion form of cholesterol in the body and contain bile salts which are necessary in absorption of the fat. The gallbladder itself does not contribute greatly in formation of bile. Whenever a change in the composition happens, a nidus for stone formation can form. Since most of the bile formulation is cholesterol, the stones of the gallbladder are mostly formed of cholesterol.

Certain conditions puts you at risk of gallbladder stones. It can be a rapid loss of weight, high-fat diet with high cholesterol content, females and obese people are at greater risk of stone formation.

Once a stone is formed it can remain inside the gallbladder which causes no symptom at all or it can move to the duct which empties to the duodenum (part of small intestine). During the transition of the stone from gallbladder to the duodenum, a typical colicky pain in the right upper part of the abdomen is felt. The pain resolves in couple of hours and is stimulated by ingestion of a heavy fatty meal. However, if the stone remains in the duct and does not finish its way to the small intestine, inflammation of the gallbladder can happen.

This condition is known as cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder). The pain is same as a biliary colic but fever and chills are associated with it. High counts on white blood cells which is a sign of inflammatory process is also seen. If left untreated, the stone inside the duct can become a hostile environment for the bacteria to growth. The bacterial infection can find its way up to the biliary tracts of the liver, a condition known as acute cholangitis. Acute cholangitis is a fearsome condition which requires hospital admission. However, with adequate and in time care, the prognosis is good.

If you feel a colicky pain, a pain starting from the right upper portion of the abdomen after ingestion of a fatty meal, you may want to visit a physician. With an imaging technique like ultrasound the gallbladder can be visualized. If a stone is seen inside the duct, treatments to remove the stone endoscopically are available and provide high rates of success.