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Gallstones are solid stone like particles that form in the gall bladder. They can be cholesterol stones or pigment stones or a combination of both.

Causes are not very clear but they may include:

  • Excessive cholesterol in bile
  • Excessive bilirubin in bile
  • Incomplete emptying of the gallbladder
  • Excessive estrogen hormone
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sudden loss of a lot of weight
  • Fasting
  • Heredity
  • Certain drugs like cholesterol lowering drugs, birth control pills

Symptoms may not be present always. If present they may appear suddenly and include:

  • Increasing pain in the right upper abdomen
  • Pain between shoulder blades
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low grade fever
  • Chills
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Clay colored stools

Treatment is usually not required in asymptomatic stones. When symptoms are present, treatment includes:

  • Mostly, surgical removal of the gallbladder through open or laparoscopic surgery
  •  Prolonged medication to dissolve the stones
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography to remove gallstones with help of an endoscope without removing the gallbladder
  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy to break the stones into tiny fragments which pass out in feces

There is no way to prevent formation of gallstones.