GALL By: Sami Stewart
WHAT IS THE DISORDER?
Gallstones are formed when bile , a liquid substance
produced in the gallbladder to digest fats, is
hardened. They look like small pebbles. They get
stuck in the common bile duct with the bile when it is
released from the gallbladder. This creates blockage
of the ducts that the bile travels through.
• Obesity. This is a huge risk factor. Obesity can cause a rise in cholesterol,
and can also keep the gallbladder from emptying completely.
• Estrogen. Women who are pregnant or who take hormonal birth control have
higher levels of estrogen. This can cause a rise in cholesterol, as well as a
reduction in gallbladder motility.
• Ethnic background. Certain ethnic groups, including Native Americans and
Mexican-Americans, are more likely to develop gallstones.
• Gender and age. Gallstones are more common among women and among older
• Cholesterol drugs. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs increase the cholesterol in
bile, which may increase the chances of developing cholesterol stones.
• Diabetes. People with diabetes tend to have higher levels of triglycerides (a
type of blood fat), which is a risk factor for gallstones.
• Rapid weight loss. If a person loses weight too quickly, his or her liver
secretes extra cholesterol, which may lead to gallstones. Also, fasting may
cause the gallbladder to contract less.
• The two types of stones, cholesterol and pigment stones, have
• Cholesterol stones:
– There are two types of gallstones, cholesterol and pigment stones.
• Pigment Stones:
– These stones tend to develop in people who have liver cirrhosis, biliary tract infections, or hereditary
blood disorders in which the liver makes too much bilirubin.
SYMPTOMS AND COMPLICATIONS
Most of the time gallstones don’t cause any symptoms until the
person is in a dangerous stage.
These are not generally discovered until the patient is being
examined for another condition
Pain in upper back and upper abdomen for several hours
A persons doctor can use the following test to diagnose gallstones:
Blood tests checks for signs of infection or obstruction and/or to rule out other conditions.
Ultrasound: This procedure transmits high frequency sound waves through the body. The
echoes are recorded and transformed into images of various parts of the body. An ultrasound
can be used to identify gallstones.
CAT scan: This test uses specialized x-rays to create cross-section images of organs and
Cholescintigraphy (HIDA scan): This test can determine whether the gallbladder is
contracting correctly. A radioactive material is injected into the patient and makes its way to
the gallbladder. The technician can then observe the movement of the gallbladder.
Endoscopic ultrasound: This test combines ultrasound and endoscopy to look for gallstones.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography: The doctor inserts an endoscope through the
patient's mouth down to the small intestine and injects a dye to allow the bile ducts to be
seen. The doctor can then remove gallstones that have moved into the ducts.
TREATMENTS AND MEDICATIONS
Gallstones can be treated with surgery, oral dissolution treatment, and
contact dissolution therapy.
Surgery is needed when symptoms repeat numerous times and the doctor feels
that the only way to prevent them is to remove the gallbladder all together.
Most of the time laparoscopy is used unless the gallbladder is damaged in some
Oral dissolution treatment drug made from bile acid that dissolves gallstones.
This treatment can be used from months to years.
Contact dissolution therapy is an experimental procedure involving and injecting
a drug directly in the gallbladder that dissolves cholesterol stones.