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:
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:
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).
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