Gallbladder Stones Which Are Encountered More Frequently İn Women Than Men
Gallbladder stones, which are encountered more frequently in women than men, is a disease with a course which might be quite painful. Approximately 1 liter of gall is excreted from the liver per day and performs various functions, mainly to ensure the absorption of certain vitamins and fats from the intestines. While flowing from the liver to the duodenum, which is the continuation of the stomach, the bile falls into the gallbladder that is on its way, where it accumulates and increases its density with the absorption of its water. After eating certain foods, especially fatty foods, the gallbladder contracts and sends the concentrated bile into the duodenum. Thanks to the mixture of various substances in its composition in certain quantities, it maintains its fluidity under normal conditions. However, any increase or decrease in these components in bile leads to deterioration in its fluidity and a “sediment-releasing” state.
Both these sediments and in cases of prolonged intravenous feeding or prolonged starvation, cause bile to develop deposits called bile sludges, which also play a role in the formation of gallstones.
Symptoms of gallstones
Gallstone formation do not usually cause any complaints as its number and size increases. Gallstones, the majority of which do not cause any symptoms, are noticed by chance during some examinations or in some surgeries, except in emergencies. However, the stones in the gallbladder, which move with the effect of gravity, start to give symptoms when they block the exit of the gallbladder and prevent the usual urinating. During the course of gallstone disease, if the stone falls into the main bile duct, it causes a much more problematic process. In this process, called obstructive jaundice, the patient may experience abdominal pain, jaundice, red or brown urine color, nausea, vomiting and sometimes fever. If an infection is added to this condition, it may cause serious life-threatening problems. This disease is called Cholangitis. A gallstone falling into the common bile duct other than cholangitis can also cause acute pancreatitis, an inflammatory disease of the pancreas. This disease can put the patient’s life in danger.
Do gallstones cause other diseases?
Gallbladder stones can cause many serious diseases such as inflammation of the gallbladder, obstructive jaundice that develops when the stone falls into the bile duct, inflammation of all bile ducts and pancreas. The complaints that occur in patients are usually a pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, the spread of pain to the right side of the back and hurting the right side, nausea and sometimes vomiting attacks.
In the case of inflammation, the patient runs a fever. These painful attacks usually begin after eating a heavy fatty meal and last around 1-5 hours.
Another complication of gallstones is caused by a large stone in the gallbladder piercing the wall of the gallbladder in time and passing into the intestine, causing mechanical obstructions in a narrow part of the small intestine. Gallstones that grow and increase in number during their natural course constantly irritate the inner wall of the gallbladder and resulting with chronic inflammation gradually increases the risk of developing cancer. This risk gets higher especially in cases of stones exceeding 2-3 cm in size.
Risk factors for gallstones
Gallstones are frequently encountered in women than in men. Also, age progression, weight gain and having given birth are among the factors that constitute risks.
How are gallstones diagnosed?
The diagnosis of the disease is made by blood, urine, stool examinations and ultrasonography (US) with typical examination findings. With these tests, close to 100 percent accurate diagnosis can be achieved. In rare cases, other imaging methods such as computed tomography, MRI may be referred. In addition, for stones in the bile duct, endoscopic interventions called ERCP, other than ultrasound, are used in both diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment of gallstones
Various methods are used in the treatment of the disease and its complications. The most commonly used method is laparoscopic surgery. Less than 5 percent of gallbladder surgeries are performed with open surgery. The most important reasons for open surgery are previous attacks in the abdomen or adhesions due to previous surgery. ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) and PTK (Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography) are other treatment methods used when necessary.
In some of the complaints caused by gallstones, recovery can be achieved following short-term treatment. However, sometimes the clinical course becomes increasingly severe and requires emergency surgery. Especially in patients with diabetes and similar problems, immediate surgical intervention becomes inevitable due to the severity of the attacks. In addition, surgery can be decided in cases where attacks are repeated constantly. Because each attack causes some permanent damage to the gallbladder and surrounding tissues at varying levels.