Gallbladder Health and What it Means to You

Like many things in life, most people don’t pay much attention to certain organs in their body, until they start causing issues. The gallbladder is no exception. The gallbladder is the small sac-shaped organ beneath the liver, in which bile is stored after secretion by the liver and before release into the intestine. The gallbladder is part of the biliary system, which includes the liver and the pancreas. The biliary system, among other functions, transports bile and digestive enzymes. Bile is a fluid made by the liver to help in the digestion of fats. Several issues can arise and cause considerable pain if left untreated. Thankfully, gallbladder treatment is typically minimally invasive and you can lead a normal, healthy lifestyle afterward. Here some common gallbladder problems, symptoms, and treatment.

Gallstones (Cholelithiasis)

Gallstones typically do not cause any problems, in fact, up to 20 percent of adults in the United States may have gallstones, yet only 1-3 percent of people actually develop symptoms. Cholesterol stones make up a majority of all gallstones. These stones usually form when there is too much cholesterol in the bile. Gallstones can vary in size from a grain of salt to the size of a golf ball. As you can imagine, the larger stones are typically the ones which cause symptoms.

Anything that increases the level of cholesterol in the blood, increases the risk of gallstones. A healthy diet and exercise can reduce your risk of developing gallstones.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Sudden and intense pain in your upper abdomen, especially after a high-fat or large meal
  • Pain in your right shoulder
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Back pain between your shoulders

When to see a doctor:

  • When you are having pain so severe you are unable to sit or be comfortable
  • Yellowing of your skin and/or eyes
  • High fever and chills

 Treatment:

Treatment for gallstones generally only occurs when the individual is experiencing symptoms and can require surgery and dietary changes.

bendorfThe surgical procedure, called cholecystectomy is most commonly performed by inserting a tiny video camera and special surgical tools through four small incisions to see inside your abdomen and remove the gallbladder. The procedure is minimally invasive and is usually done in an outpatient setting under anesthesia.
Dr. David C. Bendorf, MD specializes in general surgery, including the removal of the gallbladder. Myrtue Medical Center – General Surgery

Other less common gallbladder problems can include gallbladder cancer, inflamed gallbladder, perforated gallbladder which can be caused from untreated gallstones, bile duct infection, and chronic gallbladder disease, just to name a few. Oftentimes, symptoms of gallbladder problems include pain that comes and goes and can range from mild to severe, and frequent pain.

BernalIf you suspect a gallbladder pain please visit Dr. Alexander B. Bernal, MD. Dr. Bernal holds a Gastroenterology clinic at Myrtue Medical Center the first Monday and third Thursday of each month.  Gastroenterology is a specialty within internal medicine that focuses on digestive diseases. Gastroenterology concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine (colon), liver, gallbladder and pancreas.  Dr. Bernal is experienced in performing upper and lower endoscopies. Myrtue Medical Center – Specialty Clinics

 

Sources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cholecystectomy/about/pac-20384818
https://www.everydayhealth.com/gallbladder/guide/symptoms/
https://www.emedicinehealth.com/gallstones/article_em.htm