Gallstones

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Bile fluid is produced by the liver and is stored and thickened in the gallbladder when fasting. When food is ingested, the gallbladder contracts and releases the stored bile into the small intestine (more precisely: the duodenum). This is where the bile is responsible, in particular, for the digestion of fat. The bile fluid can crystallise in the gallbladder and form stones. These stones can block the laxative duct, causing spasmodic upper abdominal pain, usually immediately after eating or at night-time. If the gallbladder remains congested over a longer period of time, it can also become inflamed. If gallstones congest the common bile duct, this leads to jaundice, as the bile can no longer drain into the intestine. Shortly before it enters the duodenum, the common bile duct joins the pancreatic duct. If a gallstone congests the common confluence, this can also result in pancreatitis, which represents a serious complication of the gallstone disease.

Gallstones without symptoms are not considered a disease in themselves. However, if the gallstones cause typical, recurring upper abdominal pain and/or complications such as inflammation of the gallbladder or pancreatitis occur, the removal of the gallbladder is indicated.

Diagnosis

A sonography (ultrasound) is usually adequate for the detection of gallstones. In the case of doubts, a gastroscopy is often performed to exclude a stomach inflammation. If a gallstone is lodged in the main duct, the stone is retrieved by means of endoscopy (ERCP - reflection via the stomach to the opening of the bile duct in the duodenum).

Therapy
Laparoscopic / minimally invasive gallbladder removal
Hospitalisation: usually 2-3 days, subject to extension in the case of an inflammation requiring antibiotics.

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