Surgery only solution for gallbladder disease

Gallbladder disease is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. Dr. Uday Shankar, Specialist General Surgeon, Zulekha Hospital, Dubai answers some of the frequently asked questions on the issue.

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Published: Sat 8 Jan 2011, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:36 AM

What is gall bladder and gall stone?

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver. Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid (bile) produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating, aiding digestion. Bile travels through narrow tubular channels (bile ducts) into the small intestine. Contrary to popular belief; Removal of the gallbladder is not associated with any impairment of digestion in most people. Gallstones do not go away on their own. Some can be temporarily managed with drugs or by making dietary adjustments, such as reducing fat intake. This treatment has a low, short-term success rate. Symptoms will eventually continue unless the gallbladder is removed.

Why and how these stones are formed?

Gallstone formation occurs because certain substances in bile are present in concentrations that approach the limits of their solubility. When bile is concentrated in the gallbladder, it can become supersaturated with these substances, which then precipitate from solution as microscopic crystals. The crystals are trapped in gallbladder mucus, producing gallbladder sludge. Over time, the crystals grow, aggregate, and fuse to form macroscopic stones.

What problem these stone can cause?

The stones can block the neck of the gallbladder; the gallbladder then swells up giving pain. Infections can take hold, making the gallbladder thickened and fragile. If the stone drops back into the gallbladder the pain and swelling usually settle down but it often happens again. This can make the gallbladder very thick and stuck to other tissues (Cholecystitis). If it does not settle down the gallbladder can burst. This is very serious.

Sometimes stones pass into the bile duct and block it. This causes pain, fever and jaundice, in this case called obstructive jaundice. If a stone runs down and blocks the opening of the pancreatic duct, this can cause pancreatitis. Both these conditions can be very serious and even life threatening.

Why my gall bladders need to be removed?

The gall bladder is removed when it has got stones or inflammation which makes it erratic in its functions. This operation is performed to prevent patient from having further attacks of pain, or complications like jaundice and pancreatitis. The operation will remove the dangers of the present stones. It will also remove the gallbladder so that new stones cannot form.

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