They are solid deposits in the digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder and stones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. People who have symptoms of gallstones usually need surgical removal of the gallbladder. Gallstones that don’t cause any signs or symptoms usually don’t need treatment.
Symptoms of gallstones:
Gallstones usually do not cause symptoms or signs unless one of the stones gets stuck in one of the passages, causing some symptoms, including:
- Feeling sudden pain in the upper right side of the abdomen.
- Sudden pain in the middle of the abdomen just below the breastbone.
- Back pain between the shoulder blades.
- Pain in the right shoulder.
- Feeling nauseous and vomiting.
Ways to treat gallstones:
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: Most commonly, cholecystectomy is performed by inserting a small video camera and special surgical tools through four small incisions to see inside the abdomen and remove the gallbladder. Doctors call this procedure a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
In some cases, a single large incision may be used to remove the gallbladder. This is called an open cholecystectomy.
- Medications to break up gallstones: Oral medications may help break up gallstones. But it may take months or years for treatment to break up gallstones in this way, and it is possible that stones will form again if you stop taking treatment.
Sometimes medications may not be helpful. Gallstone medications are uncommon, and their use is limited to people who can’t have surgery.
Ways to prevent the risk of gallstones:
- Be careful not to skip meals, as skipping meals can increase the risk of developing gallstones.
- Lose weight slowly if needed, as rapid weight loss increases the risk of gallstones.
- Eat foods rich in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy weight by reducing calories eaten.