10 Commonly Asked Questions about Gallbladder and Gallstones
What does the gallbladder do?
The gallbladder stores and releases bile into the small intestine as you eat to help digest fat.
Does the gallbladder produce bile?
No. The bile fluid is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. A duct system beginning at the liver helps bile pass in and out of the gallbladder.
What are gallstones?
Gallstones are hardened deposits of bile formed in your gallbladder and can range in size from a sand grain to a golf ball.
How can gallstones affect you?
Sometimes, gallstones can block the gallbladder’s outlet. If this happens when the gallbladder contracts to release bile, you may feel a sharp pain or nausea. These symptoms usually occur after a meal.
How long does the pain from gallbladder attacks last?
Some gallbladder attacks are minor, so the pain will subside within a few minutes to hours, while others are more severe and may need immediate medical treatment. If you have already experienced a gallbladder attack, you can expect more of them in the future.
How can you know if you have gallstones?
An ultrasound or a CT scan can help detect the presence of gallstones.
Can you have gallbladder attacks without gallstones?
When the bile inside your gallbladder becomes thick, it might become difficult for the bladder to release it easily. In such circumstances, your gallbladder will send the same signals as if it were obstructed by gallstones, resulting in symptoms similar to gallbladder attacks.
Can gallstones move out of the gallbladder?
Yes. It is a rare but severe problem. After leaving the gallbladder, gallstones may block the ducts between the intestine and the liver, causing a life-threatening infection called ascending cholangitis.
How can gallstones be treated?
Gallstones can be treated by either:
- Cholecystectomy (surgery to remove the gallbladder)
- Medicine (for patients who cannot undergo surgery)
Can gallstones cause pancreatitis?
Yes, gallstones can lead to the inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). This happens when the gallstone traveling through the bile duct obstructs the pancreatic duct, which joins the duct passing from the liver to the intestine.
Have more questions about gallbladder diseases? Contact us today at Far North Surgery in Alaska, Anchorage. Our team, led by Dr.Madhu Prasad, is highly experienced in diagnosing and treating gallbladder conditions with our least invasive treatment options, ensuring quicker recoveries and better outcomes each time!