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More than 25 million people in the U.S. develop hard deposits called gallstones in their gallbladder. Inspira is here to find the right treatment plan for you.

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid in the gallbladder, a small organ beneath the liver. The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile produced by the liver. When stimulated by fatty foods in the small intestine, the gallbladder releases bile into the digestive tract to help emulsify and digest fat.

Gallstones can form when the balance of substances that make up bile—such as cholesterol, bile salts and bilirubin—is disrupted. If cholesterol concentration becomes too high, it can crystallize and solidify into gallstones. These stones vary in size and can block the normal flow of bile, leading to symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Untreated gallstones can result in complications, with one of the most common being acute cholecystitis. This occurs when a gallstone obstructs the cystic duct, causing inflammation and potentially leading to infection. Additionally, gallstones can block the common bile duct, causing jaundice and pancreatitis or pancreas inflammation.

Waiting to seek treatment for gallstones poses several dangers. Prolonged cystic duct obstruction can lead to more severe inflammation and an increased risk of infection. If gallstones block the common bile duct, it can result in serious complications such as liver damage and severe pancreatitis. In some cases, untreated gallstones may lead to a life-threatening condition known as gangrenous cholecystitis, where the gallbladder tissue dies due to lack of blood supply.

Prompt medical attention is essential given the potential risks associated with untreated gallstones.

Symptoms of Gallstones

Gallstone symptoms often include sharp abdominal pain, particularly in the upper right side of the abdomen; nausea; vomiting; and discomfort after consuming fatty foods. Some individuals may also experience jaundice, changes in stool color and persistent indigestion.

How are Gallstones Diagnosed?

Gallstones and gallbladder attacks are diagnosed through medical history, physical examination and diagnostic imaging. Typically, ultrasound is the primary imaging test, allowing a technologist to see the gallbladder and the presence of stones. A provider may also use computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for a more detailed assessment. They may also conduct blood tests for infection or liver dysfunction signs. Your provider will try to accurately identify gallstones' presence, size and impact to help determine the best treatment for you.

Doctor Showing Liver and Gallbladder Diagram
Gallstone Treatment Options
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Doctor Calming his Female Patient Before the Surgery
Doctor Showing Report to Male Patient After Examining his Health.

Our Approach to Gallstones

If you think you may have gallstones, getting a fast, accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan is essential. Using state-of-the-art imaging technology, such as ultrasound and CT scans, Inspira ensures accurate and timely diagnosis of gallstones, helping to guide decision-making about the best treatment pathway.

If surgery is necessary, Inspira abdominal surgeons excel at laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive procedure that promotes faster recovery and reduced postoperative discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

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