Gallstones - Symptom
Cholelithiasis; Gallbladder attack; Biliary colic; Gallstone attack; Bile calculus; Biliary calculus
Many people with gallstones have never had any symptoms. The gallstones are often discovered when having a routine x-ray, abdominal surgery, or other medical procedure.
However, if a large stone blocks either the cystic duct or common bile duct (called choledocholithiasis), you may have a cramping pain in the middle to right upper abdomen. This is known as biliary colic. The pain goes away if the stone passes into the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum).
Symptoms that may occur include:
- Pain in the right upper or middle upper abdomen:
- May go away and come back
- May be sharp, cramping, or dull
- May spread to the back or below the right shoulder blade
- Occurs within minutes of a meal
- Yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
Additional symptoms that may occur with this disease include:
- Abdominal fullness
- Clay-colored stools
- Nausea and vomiting
It is important to see a doctor if you have symptoms of gallstones. Gallstones are found in many people with gallbladder cancer.
Signs and tests:
Tests used to detect gallstones or gallbladder inflammation include:
Your doctor may order the following blood tests:
- Reviewed last on: 7/6/2009
- George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Siddiqui T. Early versus delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Surg. 2008;195(1):40-47.
Chari RS, Shah SA. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2007:chap. 54.
Afdhal N. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap. 159.
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