Symptomatic Cholelithiasis

What is symptomatic cholelithiasis?

Cholelithiasis is a condition where gallstones are formed in the gallbladder, liver or bile duct. The gallbladder stores bile, a liquid produced by the liver to digest fatty foods. After eating, the gallbladder squeezes bile down the bile tract and into the intestine. The gallstone(s) usually develop over time and exist before symptoms occur. It is a common condition that can affect everyone but occurs more often in women than in men and becomes more common with age. Typical symptoms include short-duration, repetitive pain in the upper and upper right region of the belly.

Risks

Gallstones are more common in women and people who are overweight. They also become more common as people age, and are uncommon in children and teenagers. Gallstones form over time and sometimes never lead to symptoms. They cause symptoms when a gallstone gets stuck in the outlet of the gallbladder or in the bile duct when the gallbladder squeezes bile into the intestine.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms of cholelithiasis include pain in the upper right belly and nausea. Other symptoms may include vomiting and bloating. Pain may be worse after eating, especially after fatty foods.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on assessment of the symptoms and physical examination. An ultrasound scan can show the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder or the bile duct. Blood tests to test for infection and liver function might be necessary.

Treatment

Treatment of cholelithiasis involves management of pain and, eventually, removal of the gallstones. Pain-relieving medications (ibuprofen, paracetamol) can be helpful to manage pain. Some people may need antibiotics if there are signs of infection of the gallbladder or bile duct. Surgical removal of the gallbladder (a cholecystectomy) is a common procedure and is helpful in curing symptomatic cholelithiasis.

Prevention

Avoiding fatty food and losing weight gradually may help avoid episodes of symptoms.

Other names for symptomatic cholelithiasis

  • Gallstones
  • Symptomatic gallstones