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Gallstone Disease

​​​​​Gallstone Disease is the most common disorder affecting the biliary system​; ​also known as cholelithiasis​.


Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in the gallbladder or bile ducts. They usually do not cause any symptoms, but can cause sudden pain over the right upper portion of the abdomen if the stone gets lodged in a duct causing blockage. If an infection occurs in the gallbladder, the patient will experience fever and even jaundice (yellowing of the eyes).

Signs and Symptoms

Sudden onset of pain over the upper right abdomen with radiation to the back, pain over the right shoulder, bloatnessness, nausea or vomitting, fever, chills and jaundice. Biliary colic (gallstone pain) can last a few minutes to a few hours.

Causes and Risk factors

There are various theories of how gallstones form, including high cholesterol (forming cholesterol stones) or too much bilirubin in the bile (due to blood disorder, liver cirrhosis and infections).

Other associations with gallstone disease include family history, female, above 40 years old, obese, high cholesterol diet and losing a large amount of weight over a short time.

Treatments and Programmes

​No treatment is required if the gallstones do not cause any symptoms. However, if the gallstones cause pain, gallbladder infection, blockage of the main bile duct or pancreatitis, then it is recommended that the gallbladder be removed.

The most common surgery is laparoscopic cholecystectomy (keyhole surgery), which has the advantage of discharge the next day. If there are gallstones blocking the main bile duct, a separate procedure called Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) can be performed to remove the stones in the duct prior to surgery.​

     Contr​ibuted by Department of Surgery