Gallbladder is located on the lower surface of Liver- on the right upper abdomen. It is meant to store the bile secreted by liver and release it to intestine when fatty food passes through. Stones can form in the gall bladder due to various reasons.
When thickness of bile is more due to excess cholesterol or bile pigment stone formation is a possibility. More after seen in females, over forty years who had delivery and is on higher side of weight ( Fatty fertile female of forty). Mixed stones are the commonest variety in south Indians.
In majority of people the gallstones may not create any trouble for many years but lead to cholecystitis. In 20% of the people the stone slip down to the main tubes (Bile duct) and cause jaundice, cholangitis and inflammation of pancreas. Very rarely the gallstone induced recurrent infections will lead to cancer of gall bladder which is extremely difficult to treat.
Majority may not develop significant symptoms except some gas trouble or tummy upset, especially on having fatty food. Infection of gall bladder will present as severe pain, fever and vomiting. Stone slippage in to bile duct will lead to jaundice and damage to pancreas which will be very dangerous to health.
Ultrasound scanning of abdomen is the best way to detect gall bladder problems. It will detect stones, infection and any growth like polyps. Stone in the bile duct also can be detected by the USG. Liver function test will also may be necessary to assess level of disease. In complicated cases an MRCP(MRI) will be needed.
The only way to treat gallstone disease and related illness is to perform surgery. Unlike in urinary stones – stone crushing and medical therapy doesn’t work for gallstones disease. As gall bladder is diseased once it comes develops the diseased gall bladder has to be taken out. The bile duct can take over the function of gall bladder - so one need not worry about losing a diseased gall bladder. Laparoscopic surgery is best suited for gall bladder removal as it involves only very small cuts (3 mm to 10 mm). This will be very confusable for patient’s compared to open surgery which needs 10- 15 cm muscle cutting wound. Patient recovery after keyhole surgery is so fast that they can resume normal activity in few days time without any long duration rest. The surgical out come with laparoscopy is for superior as the surgeon visualize structures very big due to high definition camera use and perform a safe procedure. Infections, wound related problem and blood loss is very less in laparoscopy.