Gallstones are painful. In north Atlanta, patients trust Digestive Care Physicians to help them with gallstones: diagnosis and treatment. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver. Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid called bile which is produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating to aid digestion as it travels through narrow tubular channels (bile ducts) into the small intestine.
Sometimes the gallbladder can malfunction causing small stone-like particles to form called gallstones. These stones develop because cholesterol and pigments in bile sometimes form hard particles. You can have a gallstone and not even know it.
Types and Causes of Gallstones
The most common types of gallstones are cholesterol and pigment stones:
- Cholesterol Stones: These are usually yellow-green in color and are more common than pigment Stones. The body needs bile; however, if there is too much cholesterol gallstones can form more easily. It can also happen if the gallbladder can’t empty properly.
- Pigment Stones: Pigment stones are smaller and made of bilirubin, which comes from bile, a fluid that the liver makes and the gallbladder stores. Pigment stones are more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver or blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia.
- Difficulty swallowing food
- Chest pain
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Bloating and gas
After a thorough examination, Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, will perform various imaging tests to look at the gallbladder. Tests used to diagnose gallstone problems include:
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Cholescintigraphy (also called DISIDA, HIDA scan, or gallbladder radionuclide scan)
- Blood and Urine Tests
Many people with Gallstones have surgery to take out the Gallbladder. There are two procedures that can be performed depending on your individual situation:
- Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy is the most common procedure for removal of the gallbladder. Dr. Singh or Dr. Rashbaum passes instruments, a light, and a camera through several small cuts in the abdomen to view the inside of the body on a video monitor. Afterward, you spend the night in the hospital.
- Open Cholecystectomy: Open Cholecystectomy requires a larger incision in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. Patients are required to stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery.
If Gallstones are in your bile ducts, may use Therapeutic ERCP to find and remove them before or during Gallbladder surgery.
- Avoid fatty, oily, or fried foods which are most likely to cause pain or a feeling of sickness. High-fat foods “activate” the gallbladder to release bile and could make the symptoms worse. Also avoid concentrated fats like oil, butter, margarine, fat on meat, or avocado. Often it’s a case of trial and error while you work out how low in fat you need to go.
- Include a wide range of foods such as vegetables, potato and legumes such as lentils and kidney beans, all varieties of bread, pasta and rice with oil free sauces, grilled or steamed fish or skinless chicken, grilled lean meat and low-fat milk or soy drinks.
- Drink eight to ten glasses of water a day.
- Avoid alcohol.
Board-Certified physicians Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin J. Parikh, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, Dr. Ruth Montalvo, and providers Tammi D’Elena, PA-C and Vanessa T. Bridgeman, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC; care for patients in the North Atlanta, GA; area including Johns Creek, GA, Cumming, GA, Lawrenceville, GA, Alpharetta, GA, and Dawsonville, GA. The in-house endoscopy suite at Digestive Care Physicians is a certified facility which has achieved the highest level of accreditation by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). If you suffer from gastrointestinal problems, abdominal pain, or need a colorectal cancer screening, contact us at (770) 227-2222 to schedule an appointment.