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Gallstones (Gallbladder stones)

Gallstones

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ that’s found under your liver and its main function is to store and release bile, which aids in digestion. Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people may develop just one gallstone throughout their lives, while others may develop multiple at the same time. Generally, gallstones exhibit no symptoms, thus many people go about their lives not requiring gallstone or gallbladder surgery in Singapore.

However, if a gallstone becomes trapped in an opening (duct) inside the gallbladder, it can trigger a sudden, intense pain in your abdomen that usually lasts between 1 and 5 hours. This type of abdominal pain is known as biliary colic. It starts in the area above the navel and can radiate to the back, and often occurs after a heavy meal, leading it to be often mistaken as gastric pain.

Some people with gallstones can also develop complications, such as inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis). This can cause persistent pain, jaundice (yellow skin) and a fever. In such cases, it is highly recommended to treat gallstones via gallbladder surgery in Singapore, where the gallbladder is removed via an open cholecystectomy.

Gallbladder and it’s function.

The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ found underneath the liver. Its main purpose is to store and concentrate bile.

Bile is a yellow liquid produced by the liver to help digest fats. It’s passed from the liver into the gallbladder through ducts known as bile ducts.

The bile is stored in the gallbladder and becomes more concentrated especially during fasting. During a meal, the body senses the fats and the gallbladder releases bile into the digestive system where it helps in the digestion of fats and oils.

What causes gallstones?

Gallstones are thought to develop because of an imbalance in the chemical make-up of bile inside the gallbladder. In most cases the levels of cholesterol in bile become too high and the excess cholesterol forms into stones. There is some evidence that a previous infection of the gallbladder could also be the cause of gallstones

Gallstones are very common. It’s estimated more than 1 in every 10 adults has gallstones, although a minority of people develop symptoms. Risks factor for developing gallstones include obesity, females and over 40 years (and older).

Treatment of gallstones

Treatment is usually only necessary if gallstones are causing:

• symptoms such as abdominal pain.
• complications such as jaundice, acute pancreatitis or infection(cholecystitis).

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

In these cases, keyhole surgery to remove the gallbladder may be recommended. This procedure, known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is relatively simple to perform and has a low risk of complications.

What happens after I remove the gallbladder

It’s possible to lead a normal life without a gallbladder.

Your liver will still produce bile to digest food, but the bile will be stored in the bile ducts instead of the gallbladder before it is released into the small intestine after a meal. However, we normally advice patients to avoid very oily foods for 6 months as the bile stored in the bile ducts may not be adequate to digest an oily meal. The situation normalizes after about 6 months, because the bile ducts expand and are able to store more bile and normal diet can resume.

Outlook

Gallstone disease is usually easily treated with surgery. Very severe cases can be life threatening, particularly in people who are already in poor health.