To answer the question the title of this blog poses about whether surgery is the only answer for gallstones, let’s take a look at some numbers. Of the 1 million people diagnosed with gallstones each year in the United States, only a quarter of them require treatment, which usually includes surgery.
While the odds may be in your favor, the number who undergo surgery is still fairly large — and you want to know whether you’ll be joining them.
The experienced team of surgeons at Rockwall Surgical Specialists is well versed in gallbladder surgery, making our providers a great choice for your surgical needs. But that doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to avail yourself of our expert services. Here’s what you should know about gallstones.
The dangers of gallstones
Your gallbladder is a small pouch located just below your liver, in your upper right abdomen. The primary purpose of this small organ is to store and release bile, which helps with your digestive process.
Gallstones form when certain substances in your bile — largely cholesterol and/or bilirubins — harden into small pebble-like pieces. In most cases, these gallstones simply exist in your gallbladder and don’t pose any problems.
If, however, these stones move and block your bile ducts, they can become potentially problematic, both in terms of symptoms and your health. Untreated gallstones that are blocking your bile ducts can lead to inflammation, infections, and irreversible damage in your gallbladder and liver.
Signs of problematic gallstones
When your gallstones become symptomatic, it’s difficult to miss the signs. They include:
- Pain in your upper right abdomen
- Fever and chills
- Jaundice (yellowing of your skin and eyes)
Usually gallstones first make themselves known with pain. This pain can come and go and strike when you eat foods that contain a lot of fat. Should any of the other symptoms on the list above occur, it may be a sign that an infection has developed, and you need to take prompt action.
Treating problematic gallstones
Knowing the extent, size, and location of your gallstones allows your care team to better determine the next steps.
In some cases, your doctor can prescribe medications for small gallstones that are made up of cholesterol. Shock wave therapies also can break apart small gallstones. If, however, your gallstones are too large or don’t qualify for nonsurgical treatments for other reasons, gallbladder surgery is your best option.
With gallbladder surgery, we remove your gallbladder using advanced laparoscopic surgical techniques. Rest assured, you can still function perfectly well without a gallbladder. Instead of bile being stored in the small organ, it enters your digestive tract directly from your liver.
When you need gallbladder surgery, you can count on the experienced team at Rockwall Surgical Specialists. Please contact us at one of our locations in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, Terrell, and Forney, Texas, to set up a consultation.