Gallstones Diagnosis and Treatment

Gallstones Diagnosis and Treatment

What are gallstones?

As the name suggests, gallstones are ‘stone like’ particles that sometimes appear in the gallbladder. These crystalized digestive fluid deposits come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from almost non-existent specks to stones the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Gallstones may form in a group of many small stones or as a single large stone. In some cases, people may also suffer from a combination of both. When a gallstone blocks a biliary tract duct, individuals may suffer biliary colic (commonly known as gallbladder attack). This often results in abdominal pain, sometimes accompanied by nausea or fever. Painful gallbladder attacks, which can be both distressing and incapacitating. Painful gallbladder attacks, which can be both distressing and incapacitating. But fear not, effective gallstone treatment is available right here in Bangkok.

Why do people get gallstones?

Gallstones form as a result of an imbalance in bile acids. Common imbalances include disproportionate levels of cholesterol or bilirubin and a lack of salt. In addition, gallstones may also develop if the gallbladder is unable to adequately drain. Depending upon the type of problem, two different types of gallstone can appear;

  • cholesterol stones
  • pigment stones

Risk Factors for Gallstones

  • Being aged 40 or older
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Eating too much fatty food or foods high in cholesterol
  • Taking medications that contain estrogen such as birth control pills
  • Taking certain types of weight-loss drugs
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Certain blood disorders involving faster red blood cell breakdown, such as thalassemia

Symptoms of gallstones

Many people with gallstones may not present with any noticeable symptoms. Known as ‘silent gallstones’, this group of people will often not feel any negative symptoms. In addition, they will maintain their regular gallbladder and liver functions.

In cases where bile ducts become blocked, a ‘gallbladder attack’ lasting a number of hours may ensue. This is primarily due to the increased pressure in the gallbladder. Such attacks commonly occur after large meals and will generally subside after the gallstone moves away from the bile duct.

However, gallstones can be extremely dangerous. If you detect any of the following symptoms, you should seek diagnosis within 1–2 weeks:

  • Severe gas and bloating
  • Indigestion, usually happens after eating a fatty meal
  • Stomach pain emanating from the right ribs that spreads to the shoulders and right side of the back

In some cases gallstones may result in more serious symptoms, generally caused by a prolonged bile duct obstruction. Occasionally gallstones may become wedged in the bile duct directly next to the duodenum. This results in a serious impediment to the pancreatic duct which can often result in pancreatitis. Common symptoms of gallstone pancreatitis include fever, prolonged pain, increased heartbeat, jaundice and diarrhoea. In cases where the stomach pain is severe enough to incapacitate the patient, it is essential that the patient be brought to the hospital within 24 hours. If left untreated it can result in death.

In cases whereby gallbladder removal is essential, Gallbladder Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy is advised.

When should I consult with my doctor?

It is recommended that anyone experiencing a gallbladder attack should visit their doctor immediately. Should they gallstone not move of its own accord, serious complications may develop. If you experience prolonged abdominal pain, nausea, fever or abnormally coloured urine following an attack, you should contact a doctor as immediately. Any of these symptoms may be an indication of a malfunctioning gallbladder, liver or pancreas.

Diagnosis for gallstones

Most people are diagnosed with gallstones as a result of an ultrasound requested by their doctor or healthcare professional. However, there are some other tests available that can also identify the presence of gallstones. These include a computerized tomography scan, an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Persons diagnosed with ‘silent gallstones’ i.e. with no symptoms at all are usually diagnosed as part of testing for an unrelated illness.

Additionally, blood tests are also commonly used as a way to identify potential warning signs, such as gallbladder inflammation or infected bile ducts. However, blood tests will generally take several days to yield results, as they must be analyzed in a laboratory for accurate diagnosis. In some cases, gallstone sufferers may also have symptoms that are quite similar to other illnesses, possibly resulting in an initial misdiagnosis. Gallstone symptoms include nausea, fever, and abdominal pain, all of which could be confused with a stomach flu. Other symptoms may also be similar to those associated with appendicitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease and pancreatitis.

Treatment for gallstones

  • Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Cholesterol Gallstones: If surgery is not possible, due to other health issues or potential complications, there are also some alternative treatments available, primarily for cholesterol gallstones. The most common form of nonsurgical treatment is via endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.
  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: For patients whose gallstones do not cause any pain or discomfort,then treatment is generally not required. However, if symptoms begin to present themselves, then it is advised that patients seek appropriate medical care. For sudden pain, it is recommended to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The most common form of treatment for gallstones is a cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder), a relatively simple medical procedure. Without the gallbladder, bile flows freely from the liver through both the hepatic and common bile ducts, and directly into the duodenum. The gallbladder is not critical for normal body functioning, and people can live a regular life with no adverse complications.

3D-4K Laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Patients undergoing gallbladder surgery are required to stay in hospital for two days and are unable to work for approximately one week. However, at Samitivej Hospital a major private hospital in Bangkok and Thailand, our surgeons offer the most advanced minimally invasive technology, laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Utilizing 3D-4K technology gives a clearer view of fine detail and greater depth perception; providing a more realistic visualization of complex surgical procedures. It also allows zooming in without pixelation, for a magnified view.

This advanced technology requires an incision of about 1 centimeter to conduct the surgery. With the support of high-grade 4K medical monitors, surgeons have the ability to see all the details required to perform their surgery safely and efficiently. Before the commencement of surgery, patients will be administered with general anesthesia to ensure their comfort during the procedure. Surgeons will then delicately separate the gallbladder from the liver and bile ducts in preparation for its removal, subsequently via the initial small incision. By utilizing the latest minimally invasive technology, Samitivej’s patients can undergo surgery, knowing that they’ll be in safe hands and back at work in no time.

Choose Bangkok for Gallstone Care

If you're seeking comprehensive and advanced treatment for gallstones, Bangkok, and specifically Samitivej Hospital, is the place to consider. With cutting-edge technology and experienced professionals, you can find relief from gallstone-related discomfort and get back to enjoying life without the burden of pain.

Don't let gallstones hold you back from living your best life. Whether it's accurate diagnosis, nonsurgical treatments, or advanced surgical procedures, Bangkok offers a range of solutions tailored to your needs. Trust in the expertise of professionals and the advancements in medical technology to provide you with effective care and a smoother recovery.


Gallstones Diagnosis and Treatment

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