Gallstones Explained

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What is the Gallbladder?
Gallstones Explained

The gallbladder is a small organ in your upper right abdomen which lies beneath the liver and is connected to the bile duct. It stores bile, a yellowish liquid produced by the liver that helps your body digest oily and fatty food.

Before a meal, the gallbladder may be filled with bile and is about the size of a small pear. During and after meals, the gallbladder squeezes the stored bile into the small intestine through a tube called the common bile duct.

What are Gallstones?

Normally, bile acids and proteins prevent the formation of stones. However, when there is an imbalance in the bile components, small pebble-like deposits called gallstones can form in the gallbladder.

Gallstones Complications
Treatment for Gallstones
Besides having symptoms of indigestion, abdominal discomfort or pain. These are the common gallstone-related complications
  • 1
    • Cholecystitis is the inflammation and/or infection of the gallbladder. It can be a sudden event as Acute Cholecystitis, or simmer and recur as Chronic Cholecystitis
    • Gallbladder cancer is a risk of in patients with recurrent and longstanding chronic cholecystitis
  • 2
    Obstructive jaundice
    • When the gallstone drop out of the gallbladder, it can get stuck along common bile duct and this will cause the bile flow to be obstructed
    • The build up of bile in the body will lead to jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin, tea-coloured urine, pale stools). Prolonged jaundice can lead to an impairment of liver function and infection
  • 3
    • If a gallstone gets stuck along the bile duct and obstruct bile flow. Other than jaundice, bacteria within the bile duct will overgrow, this can spread into the blood stream resulting in a potentially severe infection (Sepsis)
  • 4
    • When the gallstone migrate and block the common channel where the pancreatic juices and the bile meet just before it drains into the small intestine, it can block the pancreas and cause inflammation of the pancreas, this may lead to more serious complications (Systemic inflammatory Response Syndrome or Multiorgan failure)
    • Recurrent pancreatitis can simmer as Chronic pancreatitis and cause pain, pancreatic dysfunction and in the long term, as risk of pancreatic cancer
  • 5
    • Gallstone ileus, Liver abscess, Mirizzi's syndrome, Bile duct cancer
    • Complicated gallbladder infection- Empyema(Pus), Perforation, Gangrene, Mucocele, Porcelain gallbladder, Gallbladder cancer
Who are at risk of Gallstones?
While it is not known why such imbalances in the bile components occur, some people are more prone to develop gallstones. Some of the reasons are:

Patients over 40–50 years of age as compared to younger patients.


Women are twice as likely as men to develop gallstones due to higher oestrogen levels.

Family History
& Genetics

Gallstones tend to run in families, suggesting a genetic link.

Being Overweight

Obesity is a major risk, and factors like comorbidities and a sedentary lifestyle all play a part.

High-Fat Diet

A diet high in cholesterol and fat but low in fibre increases the risk of gallstone formation.


Diabetic patients have higher fatty acids. They also tend to experience more severe infections.

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs (Statins)

While statins lower blood cholesterol, they increase the amount of cholesterol secreted into the bile.


Patients on prolonged intravenous feeding, or with certain blood disorders, liver cirrhosis, and Crohn’s Disease.

Common Misconceptions and Myths about Gallstones

Myth 1: Gallstones can be ‘flushed’ away

Myth 2: Gallstones can be broken up using shockwaves

Myth 3: Surgery for gallstones is risky and painful

Myth 4: You can’t eat normally or lead a normal life without a gallbladder

Myth 5: All gallstones should be treated

Myth 6: It is ok and better to just remove the gallstones alone

How is Gallbladder Disease Treated?
Patients diagnosed with asymptomatic gallbladder disease or silent gallstones generally do not require treatment, as the condition is benign and usually does not cause significant complications.
Understanding the
Gallbladder’s Role
This tiny organ is mighty, storing bile produced by the liver, which aids in breaking down fat from food in the intestine. The gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine, facilitating the absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
Gallstones can lead to chronic irritation of the gallbladder, causing it to be at high risk of gallbladder cancer and recurrent infections.
To schedule a consultation, please call 6454 0054
Surgical Associates specialises in treating conditions of the gallbladder.
Should you experience symptoms of gallstones and require timely access to treatment, or wish to undergo a risk assessment to understand your condition, secure an appointment with Dr Lee within one working day.
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