October 01, 2012

Gallstones

Symptoms usually mean surgery

Gallstones

Years ago — after you had a test for something else — your doctor told you that you had gallstones in your gallbladder. The doctor also said not to worry about them unless they started to cause significant pain.

Recently, you've had a couple of unusual attacks of pain in your upper right abdomen that went away after an hour or two.

It's time to see your doctor. And if you experience another attack in which the pain is more constant and long lasting — or includes other symptoms such as nausea or spreading of pain to your chest or back — a visit to the emergency department is warranted.

Gallstones are common and occur in about 10 to 15 percent of people in the United States. About 75 percent of people with gallstones experience no symptoms and require no treatment, because the risk of a surgical procedure is greater than the risk of doing nothing.

However, when pain or other symptoms occur, there's about a 70 percent chance that they'll occur again within two years — and in some cases these attacks can lead to life-threatening complications.

That's why, when symptoms occur, surgery to remove the gallbladder is typically performed. In fact, gallbladder removal is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States.

Digestive organ

Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac tucked under your liver on the right side of your upper abdomen. It's part of the biliary system, which creates, stores and transports...