Gallstones develop in the gallbladder from crystals of either cholesterol or bilirubin. Stones can be too small to be seen with the eye (biliary sludge), or can range from the size of grains of sand to the size of golf balls. There may be one or hundreds of stones in the gallbladder. When gallstones are present, the condition is called cholelithiasis.
At any point, stones may obstruct the cystic duct, which leads from the gallbladder to the common bile duct, and cause pain (biliary colic), infection and inflammation (cholecystitis), or both.
Gallstone disease is a common medical problem that affects 25 million persons or 10-15 percent of the US population. Between 10-20% of all adults over 40 have gallstones, however only 1-3% complaint of symptoms during the course of a year. Women are at increased risk because estrogen stimulates the liver to remove more cholesterol from blood and divert it into the bile. Pregnant women with stones are more likely to have symptoms.
Silent gallstones often never cause symptoms and require no treatment. When treatment is requires, there are several medications, as well as non-surgical and surgical methods.
The Medifocus Guide on Gallstones provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
What are the most common symptoms of gallstones?
Are there any recognized risk factors for developing gallstones?
What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of gallstones?
What is the current standard of care for the treatment of gallstones?
What treatment options are available for the management of gallstones?
Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in gallstones?
Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for gallstones?
What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about gallstones?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
Gallbladder stones: imaging and intervention. Radiographics. 2000
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy of gallstones revisited: current status and future promises. Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2000
Emergency endoscopy. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2000
Management of gallstones and their complications. American Family Physician. 2000
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy and interventional endoscopy for gallstone complications during pregnancy. Surgical Endoscopy. 2000
Port-site metastasis following laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a review of the literature and a case report. European Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2000
Nonsurgical management of gallstone disease. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. 1999
Gallstones: an intestinal disease?. Gut. 1999
Biliary sludge. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1999
The pathogenesis of cholesterol gallstones a review. Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. 1998
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