Gallstones: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


Gallstones are solid particles that form in the gallbladder, a tiny organ below the liver. And your doctor may diagnose you with cholelithiasis. The gallbladder stores and releases bile, a fluid produced by the liver, to help in digestion. Bile also transports toxins such as cholesterol and bilirubin, which your body produces as red blood cells are broken down. However, gallstones can occur as a result of several factors. You may not realize you have them until they clog a bile duct, causing pain that needs immediate treatment.

Gallstones are stones that develop in the gallbladder or the bile ducts. However, gallstones can range in size from tiny sand grains to golf ball-sized objects. Tiny stones are typically the most troublesome. These are stones that can pass through the gallbladder and become stuck. Larger stones are more likely to remain silent in the gallbladder. It’s important to keep in mind that many people with gallstones aren’t aware they have them because they aren’t painful. There is no need for treatment in these situations.

Where does gallstone develop?

Gallstones, also known as cholesterol stones, are most typically seen in the gallbladder. However, gallstones can also pass through the gallbladder and into the common bile duct, the largest of the liver’s ducts (pipes).

Gallstones are far more common than common bile duct stones. Gallstones that travel to the common bile duct can cause more serious medical problems than those that stay in the gallbladder. Stones in the common bile duct can clog the duct, causing cholangitis, a dangerous infection. Pancreatitis, a painful disorder caused by inflammation of the pancreas, can cause by these stones. Using a scope, stones in the common bile duct can remove without surgery. Gallbladder removal requires surgery, which may perform laparoscopically (a minimally invasive surgical procedure).

Types of Gallstone

Gallstones can produce by the hardening of components in the body. However, there are two types:

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found throughout the body that is made up of fatty components in the blood. Gallstones of this type are the most common.

Pigment Stones (primarily bilirubin): This substance can form when red blood cells in the liver break down. When there is too much bilirubin in the body, it can leak into the bloodstream, causing the skin and eyes to turn yellow (jaundice).


Gallstones composed of cholesterolare often greenish. Gallstones made of cholesterol are more common than other types of stones.

Why do gallstones develop?

Gallstones form for a variety of reasons. It can develop from a variety of causes, including:

  • When the concentration of cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile reaches a critical level, a clot forms.
  • If the gallbladder is lazy and does not entirely clear itself of bile, this condition might develop.

It can be found in patients with a variety of illnesses, including:

  • Liver Cirrhosis  
  • Disorders of the blood
  • During the pregnancy period


A chemical imbalance in the bile within the gallbladder is thought to be the cause of gallstones. While experts aren’t sure what causes the imbalance, there are a few possibilities:

Your bile contains too much cholesterol:

Yellow cholesterol stones might develop if your bile contains too much cholesterol. If your liver produces more cholesterol than your bile can dissolve, hard stones may develop.

Your bile contains too much bilirubin:

Bilirubin is a substance that can create when red blood cells are broken down normally. It can produce, then passed by the liver before being eliminated from the body. Under certain circumstances, such as liver disease and certain blood diseases, your liver produces more bilirubin than it should. Pigment gallstones develop when your gallbladder is unable to break down the extra bilirubin. Moreover, these hard stones are usually dark brown or black.

Due to a clogged gallbladder, bile can concentrate.

Your gallbladder must be able to empty its bile to work effectively. If it does not empty its bile, the bile gets too concentrated, which can lead to the formation of stones.

Sign and Symptoms

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen, usually on the right side, directly beneath the ribs
  • Pain in the back or shoulder 
  • A stomach ache
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion, heartburn, and gas are examples of other digestive issues.

If you have signs of a significant illness or inflammation, see your doctor or go to the hospital:

  • Pain in the stomach for several hours
  • Chills and fever
  • Skin or eyes that are yellow
  • Urine that is dark in color and poop that is pale in color

What role does diet play in developing gallstone?

It’s unclear what influence nutrition has on gallstone formation.

  • We all know that anything that raises cholesterol levels in the blood increases the risk of gallstones.
  • It’s reasonable to assume that a high-cholesterol, high-fat diet increases the chance of gallstones, but it’s also crucial to know that the amount of cholesterol in your bile has no relation to your blood cholesterol.
  • Rapid weight loss, as well as skipping meals, seem to raise the risk of gallstones.
  • Obesity raises the risk of gallstones.
  • Gallstone symptoms can increase by eating a fatty or oily meal.


Your doctor will do a physical examination which will include a visual check of your eyes and skin for any color changes. A yellowish color could indicate jaundice, which can cause by an excess of bilirubin in the body. Diagnostic tests can use during the exam to help your doctor see inside your body. These tests include the following:

Ultrasound. An ultrasound image of your abdomen is produced. It’s the most used imaging method for diagnosing gallstone disease. Anomalies related to acute cholecystitis can detect.

CT scan of the abdomen. The liver and abdominal regions can examine during this imaging test.

Radionuclide scan of the gallbladder. It takes around an hour to finish this crucial check. Radioactive material can inject into your veins by a specialist. The chemical enters your bloodstream and travels to your liver and gallbladder. On a scan, it may reveal evidence of infection or bile duct blockage due to stones.

Tests on the blood. Blood tests to determine the level of bilirubin in your blood can perform by your doctor. The tests can also tell you how well your liver is functioning.


If you don’t have any symptoms, you don’t need treatment. Some gallstones are small enough to pass through your body on their own.

Gallbladders can remove in people who have gallstones. However, it is possible to digest food without it. One of two procedures will use by your doctor.

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: This is the most common gallstone surgery. A laparoscope is a tiny tube that your doctor puts into your belly through a small cut. It comes complete with a camera, a light, and instruments. Another little cut can use to remove your gallbladder. You’ll be allowed to return home the same day.

Open Cholecystectomy: To remove your gallbladder, your doctor makes larger cuts in your stomach. After that, you’ll be in the hospital for a few days.

Your doctor may use ERCP to locate and remove gallstones in your bile ducts before or during surgery.

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