Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, P.A.
Gastroenterology & Hepatology located in Annapolis, MD, Kent Island, MD, Odenton, MD, Bowie, MD, Pasadena, MD & Greenbelt, MD
Gallstones are solid particles that develop in the gallbladder. Gallstones don’t always cause problems, but they may block the movement of bile and cause abdominal pain. Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, P.A. is a state-of-the-art gastroenterology practicein Annapolis, Stevensville, Odenton, Bowie, and Pasadena, Maryland. The skilled gastroenterologists use advanced tools and techniques to diagnose and treat gallstones. To schedule an evaluation, call the office that’s most convenient for you or book an appointment online today.
Gallstones Q & A
What are gallstones?
The gallbladder is a small organ that serves as a storage unit for bile, which is a digestive fluid that helps break down fat in the small intestine. Bile consists of a mixture of cholesterol, bilirubin, bile salts, and other substances.
Gallstones are hard, pebble-like substances that form when there’s an imbalance in the components that make up your bile. When you have gallstones in your gallbladder, you have a condition called cholelithiasis.
What complications develop due to gallstones?
Gallstones don’t always cause problems. However, you may develop complications if the stones block the flow of bile in or out of the gallbladder, leading to cholecystitis.
Cholecystitis, also known as gallbladder disease, is an inflammation of the gallbladder. It develops from a blockage in the common bile duct, which then leads to an overaccumulation of bile in the gallbladder.
Too much bile in the gallbladder irritates the organ, leading to inflammation. You may also develop an infection in the gallbladder or the organ may tear.
If you have cholecystitis you may experience pain in the upper right area of your abdomen that worsens after you eat a high-fat meal.
What happens during an evaluation for gallstones?
When you visit Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates for a gallstone consultation, you can expect a thorough assessment. Your gastroenterologist reviews your symptoms and medical history and performs a physical exam.
To confirm or rule out gallstones or gallbladder disease, your gastroenterologist may run various diagnostic tests such as:
- An abdominal ultrasound, X-ray, or CT scan
- An oral cholecystogram (OCG) X-ray with dye to enhance imaging
- A gallbladder radionuclide scan to check gallbladder function
- An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
The ERCP is a diagnostic test that evaluates your biliary system, which are the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and your small intestine. During an ERCP, your gastroenterologist may also remove gallstones.
How are gallstones treated?
Treatment for your gallstones depends on the severity of your disease and symptoms. If you have no symptoms, you may not need treatment.
Some cases of cholecystitis may improve with antibiotics. The gastroenterologists may also prescribe medications or treatments such as electrohydraulic shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) to break up the gallstones.
However, if you have severe gallbladder disease with symptoms that affect your daily life, your gastroenterologist may recommend a surgical procedure called a cholecystectomy to remove your gallbladder.
When removing your gallbladder, the surgical experts at Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates use a minimally invasive approach called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
To discuss treatment options for your gallstones, call Anne Arundel Gastroenterology Associates, P.A. or book an appointment online today.
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