What Are Gallstones?

Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in your gallbladder, a small organ under your liver. If you have them, you might hear your doctor say you have cholelithiasis.

Gallstones can range from the size of a grain of sand to that of a golf ball. You might not know that you have them until they block a bile duct, causing pain that needs treatment right away.

Signs and Symptoms of Gallstones

Symptoms may include:

Pain in your upper belly, often on the right, just under your ribs

Pain in your right shoulder or back

An upset stomach


Other digestive problems, including indigestion, heartburn, and gas


Causes of Gallstones

Not sure exactly what causes gallstones.

Gallstone Diagnosis

Your doctor will do a physical exam and might order tests including:

Blood tests and USG etc.

Gallstone Treatment

Most people with gallstones have their gallbladders taken out. You can still digest food without it. Your doctor will use one of two procedures.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy.This is the most common surgery for gallstones. Your doctor passes a narrow tube called a laparoscope into your belly through a small cut. It holds instruments, a light, and a camera. They take out your gallbladder through another small cut.

Open cholecystectomy. Your doctor makes bigger cuts in your belly to remove your gallbladder. You’ll stay in the hospital for a few days afterward.

Complications of Gallstones

Gallstones can cause serious problems, including:

Gallbladder inflammation (acute cholecystitis). This happens when a stone blocks your gallbladder so it can’t empty. It causes constant pain and fever. Your gallbladder might burst, or rupture, if you don’t get treatment right away.

Blocked bile ducts. This can cause fever, chills, and yellowing of your skin and eyes (jaundice). If a stone blocks the duct to your pancreas, that organ may become inflamed (pancreatitis).

Infected bile ducts (acute cholangitis). A blocked duct is more likely to get infected. If the bacteria spread to your bloodstream, they can cause a dangerous condition called sepsis.

Gallbladder cancer. It’s rare, but gallstones raise your risk of this kind of cancer.