Gallstones

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Signs & Symptoms

Gallstones can cause pain at the top and right side of the abdomen. This is known as biliary colic.  The pain is often linked to fatty meals (when the gall bladder contracts).  Normally the pain is very intense and lasts more than 15 minutes but less than 24 hours.

Fever can occur if the gall bladder becomes inflamed during an attack.  If bacterial infection occurs then the patient may need to stay in hospital to receive antibiotics.

Occasionally the stone may move out of the gall bladder and into the tube which carries bile to the intestine (known as the common bile duct).  This can cause jaundice (yellow skin and eyes).  The patient may also notice dark urine and light coloured faeces.

Acute cholangitis (inflammation of the common bile duct) occurs if bacteria enter the blocked tube.  This leads to a high fever often with pain, vomiting, and extreme tiredness.

Gallstones can become lodged at the junction of the pancreas and common bile duct.  This leads to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

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