Gallbladder Problems | Gallbladder Pain

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Gallstones can be the insidious cause of severe pain!

Gallstones can be the insidious cause of severe pain!

Gallstones found by chance in the gallbladder usually do not cause a complaint, but sometimes show themselves in very severe pain. In addition, the diagnosis can be delayed because these pains are mixed with stomach pain and there is no research for the gallbladder for a long time.

Gastroenterology Specialist Assoc. Prof. Dr Hakan Ümit Ünal says that “the most common complaint of gallstones is severe pain, which occurs abruptly about half an hour – an hour after eating, in the upper right part of the abdomen, and hits the right shoulder. It usually lasts less than two hours and ends abruptly. Nausea and vomiting can also occur during pain. Diagnosis may be delayed because the pain is thought to be caused by the stomach”.

Although abdominal pain due to gallstones is usually very severe, it can be sometimes confused with recurrent and bearable pain in the form of stomach-borne pain and it may be tried to treat with stomach pain drugs.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ünal says that it is important for patients who still have continuous pain despite treatment for stomach complaints, to refer to the physician without losing time, and stresses that the possibility of gallstones must come to mind in such a case. If the gallbladder or bile ducts are blocked with stones, the pain lasts even longer.


The risk of developing gallstones in women is about three times that of men, while the risk of developing gallstones in both sexes increases with age. Pregnancy, excessive weight, gaining or losing weight too quickly, increasing the amount of cholesterol in the bile structure and being hungry for a long time increase the risk of gallstones formation.

In this regard, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ünal says that regular exercise, increasing physical activity, getting down to the ideal weight and eating healthy and regularly reduces the risk of gallstones causing complaints. 

He draws attention that only about 30 percent of patients with gallbladder stones have complaints and these gallstones may stay in the gallbladder for long times without any complaints.


It is still controversial that whether large stones in the gallbladder increase the risk of developing cancer, but it is certain that intense calcification in the gallbladder wall increases this risk. In addition, gallstones may cause non-microbial/non-infectious jaundice, while blocking the gallstones in front of the bile duct may cause pancreatic edema (pancreatitis) and may pose a life risk.

In patients whose stones fall into the bile ducts and are associated with pain, jaundice, pancreatitis, the bile ducts must be entered through the mouth to clear the endoscopic procedure ERCP should be done. Unal gives the following information:

“After this procedure, the patient should have gallbladder surgery and have a portion of the gallbladder or the entire gallbladder removed, not just stones. This is because the stone and a sac that has caused a complaint is thought to be damaged and as long as it remains, the risk of developing stones and related complaints increases again. However, there are no complaints related to gallstones in the gallbladder, for example, in patients who are detected by chance during check-up, surgery is not recommended in the first place. If the stone in the gallbladder is small or in the form of mud, stone melting treatments may be tried. But the success rates of these treatments are low. In patients with at least one complaint, it is not meaningful to be satisfied with follow-up, and it is absolutely necessary to have gallbladder surgery.”

Assoc. Dr. Hakan Ümit Ünal says that pilots, ship captains and frequent and long-term travelers who fly constantly between continents may also be advised to have gallbladder surgery, even if they do not have complaints.


Today, gallbladder operations called ‘closed surgery’ are performed with laparoscopic method. After this surgery, patients can usually return to their daily lives the next day. In a very small group of patients, open surgery can be performed with the decision taken during surgery in the case of the gallbladder is stuck to the liver.



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