Cholelithiasis is a medical condition in which stones (calculus) form in the gallbladder or in the bile ducts. These stones are made up of cholesterol, bile pigments, calcium, and other substances. They can vary in size, from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.
Symptoms of Cholelithiasis Cholelithiasis may not cause any symptoms in some people, but when symptoms do occur, they can include:
Pain in the upper right side or center of the abdomen, which can be severe and come on suddenly
Nausea or vomiting
Bloating or feeling full after eating a small meal
Fever or chills
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
In some cases, the stones can get stuck in the bile ducts and cause a blockage, leading to inflammation and infection of the gallbladder, bile ducts, or liver (cholecystitis, cholangitis, or hepatitis, respectively). These complications can cause more severe symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, high fever, and jaundice.
Diagnosis of Cholelithiasis Cholelithiasis is typically diagnosed through imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, which can show the presence of stones in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Blood tests may also be done to check for signs of infection or inflammation.
Treatment for Cholelithiasis Treatment for cholelithiasis depends on the severity of symptoms and the size and location of the stones. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary, as the stones may not cause any symptoms or complications. However, when treatment is necessary, options may include:
Medications: Pain relievers, anti-spasmodics, and anti-nausea medications can be used to relieve symptoms. Bile acid-binding agents can be used to dissolve cholesterol stones in some cases.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): This procedure is used to remove stones in the bile ducts using a special scope that is passed through the mouth and into the small intestine.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): This non-invasive procedure uses sound waves to break up stones in the gallbladder, allowing them to pass through the digestive system.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: This is the most common surgical treatment for cholelithiasis. During this procedure, the gallbladder is removed through small incisions in the abdomen. This procedure can often be done on an outpatient basis and has a relatively quick recovery time.
Open cholecystectomy: This procedure is used in some cases where a laparoscopic cholecystectomy is not possible, such as when the stones are too large or in a difficult location.
In conclusion, cholelithiasis is a common medical condition that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe pain and complications. Treatment options vary, depending on the severity of symptoms and the size and location of the stones. If you suspect that you have cholelithiasis, it is important to speak with your doctor to determine the best course of action for you.