Cholelithiasis is a medical condition where hard, pebble-like deposits develop within the gallbladder of an individual. They are also known as gallstones. These stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. The gallbladder is a small organ present in the abdominal cavity of human beings whose function is to store the bile. When stones develop within this organ, it may give rise to excruciating pain along with jaundice.
There are two types of gallstones or Cholelithiasis:
1) Cholesterol Stones: – The most prevalent kind, approximately 80 per cent of all gallstones fall into this category. They are made of cholesterol and are yellow-green.
2) Pigment Stones: – Also called bilirubin stones, these stones are made of bilirubin, and they mostly develop at the time of haemolysis (destruction of red blood cells). They are dark brown or black.
Risk Factors: – At the age above 40 years, if a person have a family history of Cholelithiasis, a person undergone an organ transplant or bone marrow transplant, if a person is diabetic, suffering with liver disease, undergone bariatric surgery and have experienced excessive weight loss as a result of it and if a person have medical conditions like haemolytic anaemia and sickle cell anaemia than chances of Cholelithisasis are more.
Symptoms: – Pain on the right side of the upper abdomen, nausea and vomiting, fever, jaundice, dark coloured stools, dark coloured urine discharge and diarrhoea.
Diagnosis: – Routine health check-up through X-Rays and lower abdomen ultrasound examination, the doctor performs a physical exam to detect abnormalities, ultrasound examination, abdominal CT scan, gallbladder radionuclide scan and Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
If these stone left untreated for a prolonged period, it s may lead to severe complications like:
Here the gallstones block the cystic duct which supplies the bile juice from the gallbladder. It results in inflammation, infection, along with excruciating pain in the abdominal region. Other complications of cholelithiasis include sepsis (infection in the blood), gallbladder cancer, cholangitis (a disorder in the gallbladder), fever, chills, jaundice, pain in the abdomen, and appetite loss.
If Cholelithiasis becomes symptomatic, surgery is the best treatment. This process is known as a cholecystectomy. Surgeons usually performed open cholecystectomy or removal of the entire gallbladder to eliminate the stones. Nowadays, laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a more common course of treatment.
Some doctors also use chemicals like chenodeoxycholic acids (CDCA) or ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA, ursodiol) to dissolve the gallstones and flush it out through urine. However, a higher probability of recurrence of cholelithiasis exists, and this treatment takes a longer time to show effective results.