Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Cholelithiasis Overview

Another name for Cholelithiasis is Gallstones.

What are gallstones?
Bile is made by the liver, and stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder pushes bile into the intestine through the bile duct. In the intestine, the bile helps digest food. Gallstones start to form when cholesterol, calcium and phosphate crystallize in the bile. These crystals continue to grow to form stones.

What are the symptoms of gallstones?
Most people with gallstones do not have any symptoms. Symptoms develop when a gallstone become stuck in a bile duct. When this happens it can cause right upper abdominal pain that may travel to the back. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, jaundice, brown urine, and clay-colored stools.

How does the doctor treat gallstones?
Gallstones that are causing no symptoms may not require treatment. Treatment for gallstones that are causing recurrent symptoms includes medications to dissolve the gallstones, lithotripsy, and endoscopic procedures to remove them from the bile duct. In some cases, it may be recommended to remove the gallbladder.

Continue to Cholelithiasis Risk Factors

Last Updated: May 16, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Cholelithiasis References
  1. Ahmed A, Cheung RC, Keeffe EB. Management of gallstones and their complications. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Mar 15;61(6):1673-80, 1687-8. [10750875]
  2. Bartlett DL. Gallbladder cancer. Semin Surg Oncol. 2000 Sep-Oct;19(2):145-55. [11126379]
  3. Cirillo DJ, Wallace RB, Rodabough RJ, Greenland P, LaCroix AZ, Limacher MC, Larson JC. Effect of estrogen therapy on gallbladder disease. JAMA. 2005 Jan 19;293(3):330-9. [15657326]
  4. Fernandez M, Csendes A, Yarmuch J, Diaz H, Silva J. Management of common bile duct stones: the state of the art in 2000. Int Surg. 2003 Jul-Sep;88(3):159-63. [14584772]
  5. Glasgow RE, Cho M, Hutter MM, Mulvihill SJ. The spectrum and cost of complicated gallstone disease in California. Arch Surg. 2000 Sep;135(9):1021-5; discussion 1025-7. [10982504]
  6. Majeski J. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy in geriatric patients. Am J Surg. 2004 Jun;187(6):747-50. [15191870]
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