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Gallbladder and gallstones
Gallstones Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.
Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time.
People who experience symptoms from their gallstones usually require gallbladder removal surgery. Gallstones that don’t cause any signs and symptoms typically don’t need treatment. Symptoms
Gallstones may cause no signs or symptoms. If a gallstone lodges in a duct and causes a blockage, the resulting signs and symptoms may include:
Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone
Back pain between your shoulder blades
Pain in your right shoulder
Nausea or vomiting
Gallstone pain may last several minutes to a few hours.
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
Seek immediate care if you develop signs and symptoms of a serious gallstone complication, such as:
Abdominal pain so intense that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
High fever with chills
ERCP procedure Tests and procedures used to diagnose gallstones and complications of gallstones include:
Abdominal ultrasound. This test is the one most commonly used to look for signs of gallstones. Abdominal ultrasound involves moving a device (transducer) back and forth across your stomach area. The transducer sends signals to a computer, which creates images that show the structures in your abdomen.
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). This procedure can help identify smaller stones that may be missed on an abdominal ultrasound. During EUS your doctor passes a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) through your mouth and through your digestive tract. A small ultrasound device (transducer) in the tube produces sound waves that create a precise image of surrounding tissue.
Other imaging tests. Additional tests may include oral cholecystography, a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Gallstones discovered using ERCP can be removed during the procedure.
Blood tests. Blood tests may reveal infection, jaundice, pancreatitis or other complications caused by gallstones.