Gallstone Attack: what are gallstones; what are the causes behind
the formation of gallstones; what are the symptoms of a gallstone
attack and how are the gallstones diagnosed and treated.
Hard stone formations that get deposited inside the gallbladder are
termed as gallstones. The size of the gallstones can vary as much as
a sand grain or a tennis ball. Gallstones are composed of
cholesterol and other minerals and fatty chemicals present in the
bile. Most gallstones do not lead to problems. But in case they get
stuck or block a bile duct, they need to be treated immediately.
Such a pain arising from a stuck gallstone is often termed as a
Causes behind gallstone formation
Gallstones are formed when cholesterol and other fatty chemicals
found in bile deposit as stones. They can even be formed if the
gallbladder is not emptying itself as much as it should leading to
gallstone attack. People who usually are overweight or those who try
losing weight quickly are more prone to a gallstone attack.
However the causes behind a gallstone attack
varies. There are two main types of gallstones:
• The stones that are composed of cholesterol, which are the most
common type of gallstones. Though the cholesterol gallstones have no
relationship with cholesterol levels found in the blood.
• The stones that are composed of bilirubin, which usually occur
when the red blood cells are destroyed (known as hemolysis). This
results in too much bilirubin occurring in the bile. These stones
are known as pigment stones.
Mostly occurring in women, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people
over the age of 40, gallstone attack
can genetically run in families too.
The following risk factors may make you more likely for developing
gallstones or getting a gallstone attack:
• Bone marrow transplantation or some solid organ transplantation
• The gallbladder fails in emptying the bile properly (a more likely
risk factor that happens during pregnancy)
• Liver cirrhosis along with biliary path infections (or pigmented
• Medical conditions leading the liver in making a lot of bilirubin,
like chronic hemolytic anemia, that also includes sickle cell anemia
Most of the people suffering from gallstones or getting a gallstone
attack never show any sort of symptoms. The discovery of gallstones
is often done when you go for a routine x-ray, ultrasound, some
medical procedures or for abdominal surgery.
However, if there is a large stone that is blocking either bile duct
or the cystic duct then you may experience cramps between the middle
and right part of the upper abdomen known as biliary colic. The pain
subsides when the stone makes its way towards the first part of the
small intestine (called the duodenum).
Other concussing symptoms of gallstone attack
• Pain being experienced in the middle upper or the right upper
o May be felt constantly
o May be dull, sharp or cramping
o May also spread towards the back or even below the right shoulder
• Skin turning yellow (jaundice)
• Clay-colored stool
• Vomiting and nausea
It is highly suggested to consult a doctor in case you experience
gallstone attack symptoms.
Diagnosis and tests performed:
Tests performed for the detection of the reason behind
gallstone attack or inflammation of the
• Abdominal ultrasound
• CT scans of the abdomen
• Endoscopic ultrasound
• Gallbladder radionuclide scan
Your doctor may ask you to go for the following blood tests:
• Functional tests of the liver
• Pancreatic enzymes
Generally, patients suffering from gallstone
attack symptoms need surgery either immediately, or after a
short time interval.
• A technique known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the most
common surgical procedure. It uses smaller surgical incisions, which
makes you recover soon. Patients are mostly discharged from the
hospital on the same day of the surgery, or else the next morning.
• However, earlier, open gallbladder removal was the usual surgery
that used to be performed in easier cases. This procedure is lesser
Medicines known as CDCA (chenodeoxycholic acids) or UDCA (ursodeoxycholic
acid) may be given in the form of pills for dissolving cholesterol
gallstones. It takes around 2 years or more to show positive results
and the gallstones may also return after you end the treatment.
Some forms of alternative medicines that contain herbal ingredients
can be used for the desired results such as
Glytamins. This supplement may bring relief to your symptoms and
pain with minimal or no side effects.