Gallstones

Alternative Names

Cholelithiasis; Gallbladder attack; Biliary colic; Gallstone attack; Bile calculus; Biliary calculus

Definition of Gallstones

Gallstones are hard, pebble-like deposits that form inside the gallbladder. Gallstones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of gallstones varies. There are two main types of gallstones:

Symptoms

Many people with gallstones have never had any symptoms. The gallstones are often discovered when having a routine x-ray, abdominal surgery, or other medical procedure.

Signs and tests

Tests used to detect gallstones or gallbladder inflammation include:

Treatment

SURGERY

Expectations (prognosis)

Gallstones develop in many people without causing symptoms. The chance of symptoms or complications from gallstones is low. Nearly all patients who have gallbladder surgery do not have their symptoms return (if the symptoms were actually caused by gallstones).

Review

George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 7/6/2009

Digestive system
Cholecystolithiasis
Gallstones, cholangiogram
Kidney cyst with gallstones, CT scan
Cholelithiasis
Gallbladder
Gallbladder
Gallbladder removal - series

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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