Is Your Abdominal Pain Gallstones?

When you feel pain in your abdomen, it could have a lot of sources. Sometimes this pain could be something innocuous, such as heartburn, indigestion, or food intolerance. However, your abdomen is also home to a number of vital organs. Pain and discomfort in this area could indicate a serious medical problem.

If you’re suffering from abdominal pain, the specialists at Preva Surgicare - Surgery Center Of The Woodlands can help you determine whether your pain might be gallstones, kidney stones, appendicitis, or another gastrointestinal concern. Severe pain in the center of your belly or near the upper-right side of your abdomen can be a sign of gallstones. Read on to find out whether gallstones might be behind your discomfort. 

What does your gallbladder do?

The gallbladder is a small organ that stores bile produced by the liver. Bile is a yellow-green fluid used by your intestines to help break down fat. When you eat a meal, especially one that is high in fat, your gallbladder produces bile to aid digestion. 

While your gallbladder is useful in storing and distributing bile, it can be fully removed without any ill effect. If you are diagnosed with gallstones, you may have your gallbladder removed to treat the condition. 

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are small pebble-like accumulations of bile that can form in your gallbladder. Sometimes gallstones are called “silent” gallstones because they don’t cause any problems at all. On the other hand, gallstones that block the duct leading to your small intestine can create a buildup of pressure that causes acute pain in your abdomen. 

There a number of factors that can cause the formation of gallstones. Most of the time, gallstones are formed due to chemical imbalances in your bile. There are two different types of gallstones: cholesterol gallstones, made up of undissolved cholesterol, and pigment gallstones, made up of bilirubin (a chemical your body produces to break down red blood cells). 

You have a higher risk of developing gallstones if you

While these factors may increase your risk of developing them, gallstones are actually incredibly common worldwide. Nearly 1 in 10 people develop gallstones, but only a small minority develop symptoms that require treatment.

Symptoms of gallstones

The most common symptom of a gallstone attack is a severe abdominal pain usually lasts between one to five hours. This pain, also called ‘biliary colic’, is usually found under your right set of ribs or in the center of your abdomen. This pain can come and go but is usually a sure sign you should see a doctor to check if it might be gallstones or another gastrointestinal condition. 

Gallstones can occasionally cause other symptoms, including:

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to speak with our doctors as soon as possible as it could indicate complicated gallstone disease. 

Treating gallstones

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, there are a number of ways gallstones can be treated. If we suspect you might have gallstones, our doctors may conduct an imaging exam using a CT scan, ultrasound, or other tests. Some people with ‘silent gallstones’ don’t suffer any pain or discomfort from their gallstones, meaning their condition can be managed with a healthy diet low in cholesterol. 

On the other hand, if you are suffering from gallstone attacks, they are likely to keep recurring. In such cases, a cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal surgery, is usually appropriate. During a cholecystectomy, or gallstone surgery, your Preva Surgicare surgeon removes your gallbladder through laparoscopic or open surgery.

During laparoscopic surgery, your provider makes one or more small incisions through which a laparoscope (a thin telescope with a video camera and light) is inserted. Using the laparoscope for visual guidance, your provider will use small surgical instruments to remove your gallbladder while leaving minimal scarring. If you are not a candidate for laparoscopic surgery, your provider may choose to conduct open surgery. After your surgery, it’s important to follow a healthy diet and follow your provider’s recovery plan to prevent any complications while healing. 

If you’re suffering from abdominal pain, it’s important to visit a practice that can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. At Preva Surgicare - Surgery Center Of The Woodlands, our doctors are trained in treating many different conditions that may cause abdominal pain, including gallstones. 

If your pain might be kidney stones, we also offer a specialized Stone Relief Center to help relieve your pain. Preva Surgicare’s Stone Relief Center was recently profiled by the Houston Chronicle for our wide range of kidney stone treatment options, including ureteral stents, ureteroscopy, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), and advanced robotic procedures.

Whether the source of your pain is kidney stones, gallstones, or something else, our specialists at Preva Surgicare can help you get back to a pain-free life. Contact our trained medical professionals by calling us at 281-377-3706 or use our online request form today.

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