What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are the tough depositions of the digestive juice released from bile. The bile is formed within a sac called the gallbladder. They are largely variable in size as well as shape. They can be as small as grain size of sand and differ from that of a golf ball.

How are gallstones formed?

Gallstones are of various types depending on their constituents. More often, there are cholesterol gallstones that are formed when there is excessive cholesterol secretion by hepatocytes (liver cells) and impaired release or emptying of the constituents of the gallbladder. Another category of gallstones includes pigmented gallstones due to enhanced heme turnover. The presence of bilirubin in bile juices in excessive amounts higher than normal eventually results in the crystallization and formation of stones or so-called gallstones.

Signs and Symptoms of Gallstones

Patients who are suffering from gallstone disease typically show symptoms like 

  • 1. Biliary colic (that is constant and sharp abdominal pain)
  • 2. Epigastric pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • 3. Nausea and vomiting
  • 4. Diaphoresis (unusually increased sweating)
  • 5. Pain between the blades of the shoulder 
  • 6. Pain below the right shoulder region 
  •  

Types of Gallstone

According to the etiology (study of causes of diseases), there are different compositions of gallstones. Types of gallstones are:

Cholesterol gallstones

Black and brown gallstones with black and brown pigmentation respectively

According to the disease surveys; 

  • 1. Cholesterol gallstones occur in ninety percent of gallstone diseases.
  • 2. Pigmented gallstones (majorly black and brown ) are approximately 2% of all types of gallstones.
  •  

Gallstone Treatment

  1. Surgery

Gallstones surgery is Cholecystectomy is the treatment for symptomatic gallstones. The laparoscopic surgery approach is the most acceptable standard approach to care. Comparatively, open surgeries or cholecystectomies are the alternative options when it is not possible practically or recommended by doctors to go with keyhole laparoscope surgery. 

Only the removal of the gallstones is not advised as studies have revealed that there are most chances of recurrence in almost one year. Therefore, in cases where the patient has acute cholecystitis, or they are critically ill patients a decompressing cholecystostomy tube is preferably placed to temporarily stabilize the patient.

  1. Nonsurgical treatments

Antibiotic administration can be an option in case of nonacute cholecystitis and poor surgical patients. Ursodiol is a medication to be administered daily for dissolving gallstones; this procedure has shown a lesser response rate in less than 50 percent patients.

How to Prevent Gallstone?

To prevent gallstone formation in the gall bladder, dietary factors play an influential role: 

Consumption of Dietary MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), caffeine and fibre. 

Also, taking a vegetarian diet decreases the risk.

Identifying and avoiding allergenic foods also relieves the symptoms frequently but is not associated with the dissolution of gallstones. 

Certain nutritional supplements like iron, vitamin C, and soy lecithin might help prevent gallstones. 

Risk factors for gallstones

Some of the major risk factors that accelerate the development of cholesterol gallstones are:

  • 1. Obesity 
  • 2. Age
  • 3. Genetics 
  • 4. Instant weight loss 
  • 5. People take certain medications like oral contraceptive pills, somatostatin analogues, and clofibrate.
  • 6. Higher lipids and biliary protein concentrations are some risk factors that increase the formation of gallstones. 
  •  

Obesity or Excessive Fat in the Body

It is one of the major risk factors in the development of gallstone disease. It increases the chances of cholesterol gallstone development by enhancing cholesterol secretion due to enhanced activity of the reductase enzyme HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-mthylglutaryl coenzyme A). The diseases occur more often in women in comparison to men. 

Extensive epidemiological studies resulted in finding that lithogenic ( increased chances of development of gallstones or calculi) obesity is more prominent in younger women, and staying slim has a role in protecting against cholelithiasis.

Rapid weight loss 

Rapidly losing weight is associated with increased chances of occurrence of gallstones in approximately 25% of estimated patients in 2-3 weeks. The exaggerated slimming procedures lead to increased cholesterol secretion from the liver. Also, rapid weight loss leads to enhanced cholesterol mobilization from the fat tissues (adipose tissue stores).

Diet 

Western diet preferences include 

  • 1. Refined carbohydrates
  • 2. Increased fat intake
  • 3. Declining preference for fibre content in the diet 
  • 4. All of these are potent risk factors for gallstone development.
  •  

Physical activity

Almost no or minimal physical activity

Sedentary lifestyle

Drugs 

The drugs which enhance cholesterol secretion from liver like clofibrate that inhibits a liver enzyme ACAT (hepatic acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase). Inhibition of ACAT leads to increased availability unesterified cholesterol, favouring gallstone formation

When should I see my doctor?

Most of the individuals having smaller gallstones do not show symptoms. Such gallstones are the “silent stones” or silent gallstones. Doctors need not be consulted when there are no symptoms. 

Patients with symptomatic stones most often present with epigastric pain probably related to the presence of stone in the cystic duct. When patient experience such painful episodes and their recurrence in the upper-right side of the abdomen, they must consult the doctor.

Pain accompanying nausea and vomiting,

The pain steadily increases for approximately 30 min to several hours. 

Which types of doctors treat gallstones?

Patients with the episode of pain and complications of gallstones should consult a surgeon experienced in laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.

For symptomatic gall stones, surgery should be done. If there are no symptoms, a gastroenterologist or physician may help. A gastro surgeon, general surgeon, or laparoscopy surgeon can be consulted.

Gallstones Treatment Cost in India

Gallstone treatment cost in India  ranges from 25,000 -1,95,000. This range of gallstone surgery depends on the technology provided by the health care institute or hospital. Glamyo health has multiple payment options available for Advanced version of USFDA approved Laparoscopic surgery for Gallstones. 

Is Gallstone Surgery Covered under Insurance?

Yes, the insurance covers the cost of gallstone surgery. Glamyo health covers the removal of gallstones under insurance with numerous advantages like

Provision of hassle-free procedure from pre-surgery to post surgery.

Insurance documentation handled entirely by carebuddies spread out pan India

Free of cost take and drop cab facility for the patient for surgery

Glamyo provide surgery at no cost EMI as well

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main cause of gallstones?

Nowadays, lifestyle changes leading to obesity and improper diet are the root causes of gallstones.

What is gallstone pain like?

Gallstone pain is severe and sudden in the abdominal region, lasting almost 1 to 5 hours. 

Can stress cause gallstones?

Stress may induce improper or entire inhibition of emptying of gall bladder contents. These cause changes in the functioning of the gall bladder properly, eventually increasing the chances of gallstone formation.

Can you live with gallstones forever? 

Yes, if asymptomatic gallstones are normally present, the gallbladder need not be treated with the development of symptoms.

What dissolves gallbladder stones fast?

For dissolution of gallstones faster, an individual may opt for “Oral dissolution therapy”. This includes medications like chenodiol (Chenix) and ursodiol (Actigall). These are digestive bile acids with a role in dissolving gallstones. Treatment options require several months or even a few years to get treated. These medications are the option to be chosen for smaller cholesterol stones.

Can drinking water remove gallstones?

Yes, adequate water intake may help in removing gallstones but not necessarily. Some studies have found that mineral water does not work in such cases. 

What foods cause gallstones?

According to research studies, consuming meat fat and fried foods increase the risk of developing cholesterol gallstone. 

Also, carbohydrate intake from fast foods like noodles has increased pigment gallstone development.

Specific dietary habits have also shown to have a role in the rising risk of gallstone disease, like consuming fast food once a week.

sugar and white flour ( that are refined carbohydrate foods) raise the level of bile cholesterol saturation, eventually causing gallstone formation

Which surgery is best for gallstone?

About a study conducted prospectively to assess the health status of patients who underwent laparoscopic and open operations, laparoscopic surgeries have demonstrated better quality of life post-surgery than open surgery for Cholecystectomy.

Do gallstones float toilet?

Yes, it has been recommended by experts that individuals must remain aware of stools that don’t flush in the toilet and keeps floating over the water. This is an indication of cholesterol gallstone.

Is yoghurt good for gallstones?

Yoghurt might help prevent gallstones as they have a lower glycemic index. Such goods with low glycemic index do not let blood sugar rise above normal levels. 

Is gallbladder surgery a major surgery?

Glam’s advanced Laparoscopic Keyhole Surgery for gallstone removal won’t be a major surgery that allows a patient to go home the same day.

Can gallstones lead to death?

Several studies have demonstrated three cases of death per year, indicating that death from gallstones is almost uncommon. The risk of death has been calculated to be two to ninefold higher in patients suffering from acute cholecystitis.

When is gallbladder surgery an emergency?

According to a study conducted by Mayo Clinic, 1 in every 5 patients needed emergency gallbladder surgery after 30 days of pain in the tummy or abdominal region where the gall bladder is located. 

How much does a gall bladder removal surgery cost?

It depends on the hospitals and health centres. The cost may range between 20,000 to 1 lakh.

How do dissolve gallstones naturally?

To dissolve gallstones naturally, it is recommended by the experts that eating herbs, olive oil, and some fruit juices for several hours ultimately helps release gallstones in stool by breaking them into smaller stones.

What do gallstones look like in the toilet?

Gallstones are variable in size and colour; they are usually diamond in shape and have a yellowish appearance on the stool.

Are gallstones dangerous?

Yes, gallstones can become dangerous in certain situations as they block the pancreatic duct leading to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). This lead to constant and intensified abdominal pain that require emergency hospitalization. Individuals with gallstone history have a higher risk of gallbladder cancer.

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