The Gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ situated underneath the liver on the right side of abdomen. The main purpose of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate bile. Bile is a liquid that is produced by the liver, which helps digest fat in our diet. Bile juice passes through the liver through a series of channels, known as bile ducts, into the gallbladder. The bile is stored in the gallbladder and released into the digestive system when it is required.
Diseases of Gallbladder
- Gallbladder Stones (Gallstones or Cholelithiasis)
- Inflammation of gallbladder (Cholecystitis)
- Cancer of gallbladder
Gallstones are stones that form in the gallbladder and made of cholesterol, bilirubin and calcium. About 6 to 10% of healthy adults may have gallstones. Size of gallstones can vary from being as small as a grain of sand to as big as a golf ball.
Many risk factors for gallstone formation are related to diet and lifestyle related issues. Gallstones form when there is imbalance in the chemical content of bile. In most cases the levels of cholesterol in bile become too high and the excess cholesterol forms into stones. Females have a higher chance of developing gallstones especially if they are overweight, more than age 40 and have had multiple pregnancies. Individuals including young adults and children without any risk factors can also develop gallstones.
Many people suffering from gallstones do not show any symptoms and almost 90% have no pain at all. These types of gallstones are called Asymptomatic or Silent Gallstones.
But if a Gallstone lodges in a bile duct and causes blockage, it can cause a Gallbladder Attack, causing excruciating pain that lasts up to several hours. If a gallstone blocks the pancreatic duct, it can cause Gallstone Pancreatitis i.e. swelling in the pancreas, which is equally painful.
Most common symptoms of gallstones according to our Gastroenterologist in Dubai are: –
- Severe pain in upper right portion of the abdomen, back pain and pain in right shoulder.
- Fever, nausea and vomiting
- Yellow tint in the eyes or jaundice
- Pale stools
According to our Gastroenterology and Surgery experts of our team in Dubai, gallstones can cause several complications, and some of them can be life threatening.
- Inflammation of Gall Bladder (Cholecystitis)
- Blockage of the bile ducts (Obstructive Jaundice)
- Infection of the bile ducts (Cholangitis)
- Inflammation of pancreas (Pancreatitis)
- Obstruction of small intestine (Gallstone Ileus)
- Gallbladder Cancer
Treatment depends on whether gallstones are causing symptoms or not. If you have silent gallstones without symptoms, it is not always necessary to treat the disease and one may observe closely. However, you must consult our expert surgeons for treatment if you have episodes of biliary colic or any other complication of gallstone disease (such as jaundice or pancreatitis). In such cases, it is advisable to undergo a surgery to remove your gallbladder. Medicines to dissolve gallstones are not very effective and are generally not recommended.
Surgery : The best treatment for Gallstone disease is to remove the gallbladder by a procedure known as Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. This is a keyhole surgery that can be done in 30-45 minutes and patient can be discharged within one day. During this surgery, the entire gallbladder along with all the stones is removed. It is not advisable to just remove the stones and leave the gallbladder. A person can live a normal life after removal of the gallbladder. After its removal, bile flows out of the liver directly into the intestines, rather than being stored in the gallbladder.
ERCP : This is a highly specialised endoscopic procedure that is often required to remove gallstones that get stuck in the bile ducts and cause jaundice. if required, such advanced procedures can be done by our expert gastroenterologist in U.A.E. After a successful ERCP, surgery is still required to remove the gallbladder.