The Dangers of Gallstones and How to Prevent Them
Gallstones are hardened deposits of bile that can form in the biliary system (gallbladder or bile duct). The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ on the right side of the abdomen, attached under the liver. The gallbladder holds bile that the liver makes to release into the duodenum (small intestine). Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. A person can have only one or more gallstones at the same time. A person who experiences symptoms of gallstones usually requires surgical removal of the gallbladder.
Gallstone Risk Factors
There are several factors that can increase the risk of gallstones forming, including:
- Age 40 or over
- Overweight or obesity
- Not moving much
- Is pregnant
- Often eat foods high in fat/cholesterol
- Lack of fiber intake
- Have a family history of gallstones
- Have diabetes
- Have certain blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia or leukemia
- Lose weight very fast
Types of Gallstones
Several types of gallstones can form in the gallbladder, including:
- Cholesterol Stones. The most common type of gallstones are yellow in color. These gallstones consist mainly of insoluble cholesterol, but may contain other components.
- Pigment Stone. These dark brown or black stones form when bile contains too much bilirubin. These stones are often caused by infection
- Mixed Stone. Stones formed from components of cholesterol stones and pigment stones
Gallstones may not cause signs or symptoms Symptoms that can occur in someone with gallstones include:
- Pain that comes and goes in the upper right abdomen, which can radiate to the back
- Pain in right shoulder.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- If inflammation occurs, the intensity of pain will increase, it is sharp, continuous and can be accompanied by fever
- If there is a blockage in the bile duct will give symptoms of yellow eyes and skin (jaundice).
Immediately make an appointment with a doctor if you have signs or symptoms as above
The doctor will take a history, physical examination, and supporting examinations, including:
- Ultrasound (Ultrasonography) of the abdomen. This examination is the first choice for the detection of gallstones. Ultrasound can also show abnormalities associated with acute cholecystitis (acute inflammation of the gallbladder).
- Abdominal CT Scan
- Blood Test. To assess the amount of bilirubin in the blood and assess liver function.
Possible complications of gallstones include:
- Inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis). Cholecystitis causes sharp pain in the upper right abdomen and is accompanied by a high fever.
- Bile Duct Blockage. Gallstones can block the bile ducts, causing jaundice (a yellow color in the eyes and body due to an excessive buildup of bilirubin in the blood). This condition can be accompanied by infection which is a serious condition.
- Blockage of the Pancreatic Duct. This blockage can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Pancreatitis causes severe and constant abdominal pain, usually requiring hospitalization.
- Gallbladder Cancer. People with a history of gallstones have an increased risk of gallbladder cancer. Even so, this cancer is very rare.
Non-operative therapy with medication (drugs) can be given to patients with gallstones without symptoms
2. Surgery (cholecystectomy)
Cholecystectomy is surgery to remove the gallbladder. Since the gallbladder is not a vital organ, a person can live a normal life without it.
There are two types of cholecystectomy:
- Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. This is a minimally invasive surgery that is performed with the help of a camera and monitor. The surgeon will make three or four cuts of 0.5 to 1.5 cm in size to insert the camera and instruments. The advantage of laparoscopy is a smaller wound size, less pain, faster hospitalization.
- Open Cholecystectomy. This operation is usually performed when the gallbladder is inflamed with severe adhesions or complications occur during laparoscopic cholecystectomy
Indications for surgery on gallstones
- Gallbladder stones with symptoms
- Gallbladder stones with diabetes
- There is a suspicion of malignancy on investigation
- There is jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
If Friends of Hermina experience the above symptoms, they can consult a doctor who specializes in digestive surgery at Hermina Pandanaran Hospital. Get easy doctor registration through the "Halo Hermina" mobile application, Call Center 1500 488 and the website www.herminahospitals.com