The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that is situated in your abdomen region. Its function is to aid in digestion. After eating, the gallbladder releases bile which will help in digestion. Then it reaches the small intestine by passing through small tubular channels.
Gallbladder surgery is a commonly performed surgery. The surgery does not affect digestion in the majority of the people. Doctors usually recommend surgery when the stones found in the gallbladder slip into other organs. Let us see more about gallstones and understand why they pose a problem.
Gallstones and associated risks
- Gallbladder problems are usually caused due to the presence of small stones formed due to cholesterol and bile salts in the gallbladder or in the bile duct. These stones are called gallstones.
- Gallstones are more commonly seen in older people. Other risk factors are being overweight and prior to pregnancy. Also, gallstones are common in females than in males.
- So far, there hasn’t been any well-known method to prevent gallstones.
- As mentioned earlier, the gallbladder has to release the bile to aid digestion. However, with the presence of gallstones, this flow may be blocked, resulting in the swelling of the gallbladder. This leads to pain in the abdomen, vomiting, ingestion and also fever in some cases.
Also Read: Gallbladder Cancer Causes and Early Symptoms
The Medical Term for Gallbladder Surgery is Cholecystectomy.
Types of Cholecystectomy
There are 2 types of cholecystectomy:
In this minimally invasive procedure, the doctor makes 4 incisions on your abdomen through which he/she inserts a tube with lights and camera and surgical tools to take out your gallbladder.
A large incision will be made on your gallbladder where the gallbladder and liver are exposed.
Causes of gallstones
Too much cholesterol in your bile
Your bile has chemicals which dissolve the cholesterol. But, if the cholesterol is in excess, they can form into crystals that turn into stones.
Bilirubin forms when your body breaks down the RBCs. However, when there’s too much bilirubin produced, it adds to the formation of gallstones.
When your gallbladder doesn’t empty properly, the bile might concentrate and turn into gallstones.
Types of Gallstones
These are yellowish-green in color. These compose due to the hardening of cholesterol. Eighty percent of gallstones are of this kind. These are formed due to the reasons mentioned above.
These stones are small and dark in color. They form due to the presence of excess bilirubin. People with liver cirrhosis usually develop this type of gallstones.
These stones consist of both cholesterol stones and pigment stones.
Risk Factors Of Developing Gallstones
The chances of developing stones in the gallbladder increases with age. People who are above 40 are more susceptible to developing gallstones. Some factors that increase the risk of developing gallstones are-
- Family history of developing gallstones
- Being overweight or obese
- Suffering from diabetes
- Suffering from high blood pressure
- Consuming alcohol regularly
- Have the habit of smoking
- Young women
- Women with multiple pregnancies
- Long term use of contraceptive pills
Gallstone Size and Risk of Developing Gallbladder Cancer
Gallstones are a major indicator of gallbladder cancer. When the doctors diagnose the presence of gallstones, this is why doctors recommend its removal. There are speculations that people with large gallstones are at a greater risk of gallbladder cancer. However, there is no confirmation on the study with data analysis.
Although there have been findings of relation between gallstone size and cancer, it is not a reliable source. You need to let your GP decide whether you need surgery or not.