Diseases of the gallbladder and biliary tract are common and, in many cases, painful conditions that may be life threatening and usually require surgery. They are generally associated with deposition of calculi and inflammation.
Cholelithiasis is the fifth leading cause of hospitalization among adults and accounts for 90% of all gallbladder and duct diseases. Women have two to three times the incidence as men of developing cholelithiasis. The disease may also be more prevalent in persons who are obese, who have high cholesterol, or who are on cholesterol lowering drugs.
In most cases, gallbladder and bile duct diseases occur during middle age. Between ages 20 and 50, they're six times more common in women, but incidence in men and women becomes equal after age 50. Incidence rises with each succeeding decade.
Cholecystitis. acute or chronic inflammation of the gallbladder. is usually associated with a gallstone impacted in the cystic duct, causing painful distention of the gallbladder.
Cholelithiasis Symptoms and Signs
Attacks commonly follow meals rich in fats or may occur at night. Suddenly awakening the patient. They begin with acute abdominal pain in the right upper quadrant that may radiate to the back. Between the shoulders. or to the front of the chest; the pain may be so severe that the patient seeks emergency department care. Other features may include recurring fat intolerance. Biliary colic. Belching. Flatulence, indigestion. Diaphoresis. Nausea. vomiting. chills. low-grade fever. jaundice (if a stone obstructs the common bile duct). and clay-colored stools (with choledocholithiasis).
• Ultrasound reflects stones in the gallbladder with 96% accuracy. It's also considered the primary tool for diagnosing cholelithiasis.
Surgery, usually elective, is the treatment of choice for gallbladder and biliary tract diseases and may include open or laparoscopic cholecystectomy.