What is the Gall Bladder ?
The gall bladder is a small pear-shaped organ on the underside of the liver. Bile is made in the liver and is stored in the gall bladder until it is needed to help in digestion.
Do you have one or many of the following symptoms ?
*Severe pain in upper middle part of the abdomen which lasts for a few seconds to an hour or more.
*Pain after meals, especially on consuming fatty or fried food-cheese, chocolates.
*Pain goes to the back or below the right shoulder blade.
*Chest pain under the breast bone-Heart Burn.
*Burping or belching.
*Nausea and vomiting.
If yes, then you could be having Gall Bladder Stones.
Gall Stones are small pebble-like substances that develop in the gall bladder. Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. The gallbladder can develop just one large stone, hundreds of tiny stones, or a combination of the two.
Gallstones are twice more common in women then in men.
There are two types of Gallstones :
Cholesterol Stones: formed when bile contains too much cholesterol, too much bilirubin or not enough bile salts.
Pigments Stones: the exact formation of these stones is not known and could be related to an infection.
How are Gallstones detected ?
When you visit a Doctor with the above mentioned complaints, after preliminary tests, if Gallstones are suspected, the Doctor will advise an Ultrasound scan, Other tests may be advised for complete diagnosis such as – CT (Computed Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) / MRCP, Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan), Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
How are Gallstones Treated ?
If you are diagnosed to have Gallstones and have no symptoms, no treatment is required. However, if there are symptoms as mentioned above, your doctor would advise a Cholecystectomy (removal of Gallbladder).
Most cases of Gallstones are treated surgically. The surgery is usually done Laparoscopically, but occasionally it is done by the open method.
In this method, after you receive general anesthesia, the surgeon makes four tiny incisions in the abdomen. The abdomen is inflated with Carbon dioxide gas to create room for easy maneuvering of instruments A miniature video camera and a laparoscope are inserted through these holes. The camera sends a magnified image from inside the body to a video monitor, giving the surgeon a close-up and enlarged view of the organs and tissues. While watching the monitor, the surgeon uses special instruments to carefully separate the gallbladder from the liver, bile ducts, and other structures. The surgeon then clips or ties the cystic artery and the cystic duct, divides them, and removes the gallbladder through one of the small incisions.
The patient can go home the next day after surgery and resume normal activities earlier than a patient who has had open surgery.
What side effects can be expected following treatment ?
Fortunately, we can live without a gallbladder.
Following surgery, one can expect the pain to have disappeared. We can eat fatty foods normally without the associated pain. However, some patients may experience softer and more frequent stools as the bile flows more in to the intestine, this is temporary and if the problem persists, you may consult with your physician for the same.
Are there other methods of treating Gallstones ?
There are certain non-surgical methods of removing the stones. They are:
Oral dissolution therapy: Drugs made from bile acids are used to dissolve gallstones. These can be used to treat very small, pure cholesterol gallstones.
Contact dissolution therapy: This experimental procedure involves injecting a drug directly into the gallbladder to dissolve cholesterol stones.
Lithotripsy: Single gallstones in the gallbladder or bile ducts can sometimes be shattered by a technique called lithotripsy, which uses a beam of sound energy. This method is only rarely useful for gallstones. The fragments of shattered stone will still to be removed by ERCP or dissolution therapy, and can recur after such treatment.