Gallstones (Gallbladder Stones) Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Gallstones are solid lumps or stones that form in the gallbladder or bile duct. They are formed when some of the chemicals stored in the gallbladder harden into a mass. Gallbladder stones and kidney stones are not related. They are formed in different areas of the body.


The gallbladder is a small bag-shaped organ on the right-hand side of the body, just below the liver. It stores green liquid called bile, which is produced by the liver to help the body digest fats and other substances.

Bile duct: When we eat, bile is released from the gall bladder into the intestines through a narrow tube called the bile duct.

Types of Gallstones

There are two basic types of gallstones:

  1. Cholesterol gallstones are formed when there is too much cholesterol in the bile. Cholesterol gall-stones are usually yellowish-green in colour.
  2. Pigment gallstones are small and dark, and form when there is excess bilirubin in the bile. They tend to develop in people who have liver disease, infections in the bile tubes or hereditary blood disorders such as sickle-cell anaemia.

Causes of Gallbladder Stones

The factors that contribute to getting gallbladder stones include:

Gallstones are also associated with certain medical conditions including:

Symptoms of Gallstones

Symptoms of gallstones are often called a gallstone "attack" because they occur suddenly.

Other gallstone symptoms include:

Gallstones Treatment


Surgery to remove the gallbladder is the most common way to treat symptomatic gallstones. (Asymptomatic gallstones usually do not need treatment.) The surgery is called cholecystectomy.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Nonsurgical approaches are used only in special situations, such as when a patient has a serious medical condition preventing surgery and only for cholesterol stones. Stones usually recur after nonsurgical treatment.

Oral Dissolution Therapy

Drugs made from bile acid are used to dissolve the stones. The drugs, ursodiol (Actigall) and chenodiol (Chenix), work best for small cholesterol stones. Months or years of treatment may be necessary before all the stones dissolve. Both drugs cause mild diarrhea, and chenodiol may temporarily raise levels of blood cholesterol and the liver enzyme transaminase.

Contact Dissolution Therapy

This experimental procedure involves injecting a drug directly into the gallbladder to dissolve stones. The drug-methyl tert butyl ether-can dissolves some stones in 1 to 3 days, but it must be used very carefully because it is a flammable anesthetic that can be toxic. The procedure is being tested in patients with symptomatic, noncalcified cholesterol stones.

Specific Foods to Avoid Gallbladder Attacks

Eggs, pork, onion, fowl, milk, coffee, citrus, corn, beans, nuts, in that order.

Good Foods for the Gallbladder

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice.

Article ID: 380
Created: Thu, Jul 5, 2007
Last Updated: Wed, Apr 24, 2019
Author: Administrator

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