Gall bladder stones are a common condition. It was believed that gallstones affect those who are Female, Forty, Fat, Fertile. This belief has now been relegated to be a myth. Almost any one can be affected by this condition.
Do I have gallstones?
Gallstones can cause a variety of symptoms. The symptoms can vary from indigestion and intolerance to certain foods, to severe infection and inflammation of pancreas. Gallstones can cause spasms of pain (Biliary Colic) or can cause infection of the gall bladder (Acute Cholecystitis). Gallstones can move into the bile duct (CBD stones) to cause obstruction of the bile ducts (Obstructive Jaundice) and then can lead to infection of bile ducts (Acute Cholangitis). Acute Cholangitis can make patients very ill rapidly. Treatment of this condition will require hospital admission and prompt administration of IV antibiotics (antibiotics through a drip). Gallstones can also irritate the the pancreatic duct and can cause inflammation of pancreas (Acute Pancreatitis), which is potentially a life threatening condition.
Do I need an operation?
If the gallstones are causing symptoms, it is best to have the gall bladder removed. Previously a number of treatments have been tried to just to remove or dissolve the stones leaving the gall bladder intact. All these methods have been unsuccessful. Ideally the operation should be performed as soon as possible to prevent further symptoms. However, when the gallstones have caused severe infection, it is safer to wait for the infection to settle before any surgical procedure. If the gallstones are in the gall bladder, you will require laparoscopic cholecystectomy. However, if the gallstones have moved into the bile ducts, you may require a more advanced operation (laparoscopic CBD exploration) or ERCP. Follow the link for CBD stones for more information regarding treatment for bile duct stones.
Risks of the operation
The operation for the removal of gall bladder is routinely performed via key hole surgery (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy). Specific risk to this operation is injury to the bile ducts. These injuries are rare, but may require further procedures or operations.