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Gallstones

Sometimes painful blockage of the gallbladder duct

The gallbladder is a sack-like organ that sits beneath the liver and holds bile, a digestive juice that helps digest fats. Gallstones form from crystalized bile and can block the gallbladder opening into the intestine.

Symptoms

Stones may cause no symptoms – or cause severe steady pain in the upper abdomen or right side, lasting a few minutes or several hours. Pain also may be felt between the shoulder blades or in the right shoulder and be accompanied by vomiting or sweating. If stones become lodged in the main bile duct, but they may cause inflammation or infection.

Diagnosis

May include abdominal ultrasound, CT scans, or scans using radioactive tracers to see how well the gallbladder contracts or if stones are present.

Treatment

Surgical removal of the gallbladder in patients with serious symptoms.