What Are the Symptoms of Gallstones?
Gallstones often don't cause symptoms. Those that don't are called "silent stones." A person usually learns he or she has gallstones while being examined for another illness.
When symptoms do appear, they may include:
- Pain in the upper abdomen and upper back; the pain may last for several hours.
- Other gastrointestinal problems, including bloating, indigestion and heartburn, and gas
How Are Gallstones Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects you have gallstones, he or she will do a physical exam and may perform various other tests, including the following:
How Are Gallstones Treated?
Gallstones are usually treated with surgery to take out the gallbladder. The traditional operation is called an open cholecystectomy. A newer procedure, called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is less invasive, has fewer complications, and is used more often.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. During this procedure, instruments, a light, and a camera are passed through several small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon views the inside of the body by looking at a video monitor. This procedure is used in of the majority of gallbladder removals. After the surgery, the patient spends the night in the hospital.
Open cholecystectomy. This is a more invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes incisions in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. The patient stays in the hospital for a few days after the surgery.
If gallstones are in the bile ducts, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography may be used to find and remove them before or during gallbladder surgery.