The gallbladder is the organ that stores a digestive juice known as bile. Gallstones are stones that develop in the gallbladder due to an imbalance of the chemical component of bile. These are of two types-
- Symptomatic gallstones that cause pain and other symptoms
- Asymptomatic gallstones, which are more common. Asymptomatic gallstones are also known as silent stones.
Asymptomatic gallstones are not life-threatening. The statement can be backed by the fact that only 20% of patients develop any complications.
What are Silent Gallstones?
Medically known as asymptomatic gallstones, silent gallstones are small-pebbled stones that develop in the gallbladder and cause no symptoms. Almost 70% of patients suffering from gallstones do not show any symptoms.
Types of Gallstones:
Depending on the predominance of chemical composition, gallstones can be of two types-
- Cholesterol gallstones- These are the most common type of gallstones that develop in humans. This develops due to an increase in the cholesterol level of bile.
- Pigment gallstones- These occur very rarely in the gallbladder. But in some cases, they develop due to an increase of bilirubin in the bile or due to other infections.
Causes of gallstones-
The imbalance of the chemical composition of the bile can be evoked by the following reasons.
- Weight. The risk of developing gallstones is higher in overweight individuals, especially in women.
- Age. People who are over 60 years are more prone to developing gallstones.
- Pregnancy. The secretion of estrogen during pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, and birth control pills increases cholesterol level.
- Genetic. If your family has a history of suffering from gallstones, then you are more likely to have gallstones.
- Skipping meals. Skipping out meals adds increases the risk of gallstones.
Diagnosis of Gallstones-
The Silent gallstones are generally discovered during the diagnosis of other abdominal conditions. The doctor can ask for any of the following tests to check for stones in the gallbladder.
- Blood test
- Cholesterol test
- Endoscopic ultrasonography- A device known as an endoscope which projects image is put into the mouth and through the digestive tract so that it can create a clear picture of the gallbladder.
- Ultrasound- Also known as sonography, in this procedure sound waves are used to develop images to see what’s going on inside the body. An instrument is inserted which records the echoes generated due to the emission of sound and as the waves bounce back to determine the size, shape, and consistency of soft tissues and organs.
- MRI HIDA (Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid) scan- A radioactive chemical is injected into the body to create images of any blocked ducts.
You can also try to manage the symptoms for a short time by making changes in the regular diet. This mainly includes avoiding fatty foods.
If someone is unwilling to undergo surgery and the size of gallstones is comparatively small, an option would be to take ursodiol which is a naturally occurring bile acid that helps dissolve the stones when taken orally two to four times a day. Medication is sometimes combined with lithotripsy. In this procedure, sound waves outside the body are used to so that gallstones dissolve into pieces more easily or are small enough so that they can pass safely through the bile duct. But, unfortunately, these have proven to be not so effective. For the permanent cure of gallbladder stones, doctors recommend laparoscopic surgeries. These ensure easy recovery and the risk of infection is also less. This laparoscopic treatment is carried out under the influence of general anesthesia.
The cure for treating asymptomatic gallstones is the removal of the gallbladder surgically. This is known as Cholecystitis.
With a laparoscopic procedure, a small incision is made through which a small laparoscope is inserted to help the doctor to see inside.
The recovery period depends on the type of surgery you have undergone. Generally, full recovery after open surgery is achieved after 6-8 weeks while after a laparoscopic procedure, it takes only 2 weeks to recover completely.
It is important to be careful initially for a few weeks after removing the gallbladder. You should follow the instructions-
- Avoid eating greasy or fried foods such as chips, fries, pizza, etc.
- Limit caffeine, dairy products.
- Drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water daily
- Avoid lifting heavy weights as this can put pressure on the wounds
- Wear comfortable clothes that are soft and stretchable
- Do little movements like moving around every few hours
Recent statistics suggest that the northern part of India has one of the highest rates of reported incidents of gallbladder stones. The percentage of reported incidents is higher in females than in males. To provide you with a permanent solution to your health concerns, ranging from gallbladder stones to hysterectomy, Pristyn Care relies on cutting-edge technology which ensures a fast recovery. Our doctors are experts in the latest care treatments, specializing in laser and laparoscopic procedures.