Overview

Gallbladder and gallstones

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can build up in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just below your liver. The gallbladder contains a digestive fluid called bile which is released into your small intestine.

Gallstones vary in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. Some people develop only one gallstone while others develop multiple gallstones at the same time.

People who have symptoms of their gallstones usually need to have their gallbladder removed. Gallstones that don’t cause signs and symptoms usually don’t need treatment.

Symptoms

Gallstones should not cause any signs or symptoms.

When a gallstone becomes lodged in a duct and causes a blockage, the following symptoms and symptoms may occur :

  1. Sudden, rapidly increasing pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
  2. Sudden, rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone
  3. Back pain between the shoulder blades
  4. Right shoulder pain
  5. Nausea or vomiting

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

Seek immediate medical attention if you develop signs and symptoms of a serious complication of gallstones, such as:

  1. Abdominal pain so severe that you cannot sit still or find a comfortable position
  2. Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  3. High fever with chills

Types of gallstones

The types of gallstones that can form in the gallbladder include:

Risk factors

Factors that can increase your risk for gallstones include:

Prevention

You can reduce the risk of gallstones if you:

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