Gallstones form when bile or cholesterol stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Bile is made in the liver, then stored in the gallbladder until the body needs to digest fat. Gallstones can be present in the gallbladder itself or in bile ducts. Gallstones that obstruct bile ducts can lead to a severe or life-threatening infection of the bile ducts, pancreas or liver. Other factors believed to cause gallstones include obesity, estrogen, cholesterol-lowering drugs and diabetes.
Symptoms of gallstones often occur suddenly. A typical attack can cause:
- Constant pain in the upper abdomen that increases rapidly and lasts from 30 minutes to several hours
- Pain between the shoulder blades and under the right shoulder
- Nausea or vomiting
Gallbladder-removing surgery is the most common way to treat gallstones. The surgery is called cholecystectomy. Should you require surgery, your health care provider will give you an overview of the procedure and what to expect in recovery.
The UK Digestive Health Program includes a collaborative team of gastroenterologists and surgeons to diagnose and treat gallstones. These specialists work together to offer patients the most up-to-date information on the latest diagnosis and treatment methods. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 1-800-333-8874 for an appointment or view a list of our physicians.