Gall bladder is a small pear-shaped sac like organ in the upper right part of the abdomen. It is located under the liver, just below the front rib cage on the right side. It stores bile temporarily. Bile is synthesized in liver. During empty stomach/fasting, gall bladder gets distended with bile and it empties it when food (especially fatty food) reaches intestine. Due to various reasons like excessive weight (obesity), pregnancy, genetic, infection, prolonged stay in ICU bile gets concentrated and forms gall stones.
Gallstones can block the tubes (ducts) through which bile flows from your gallbladder or liver to your small intestine. If the blockage persists, these organs can become inflamed. Inflammation of the gallbladder is called cholecystitis. Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis. Gall stones are primarily of two types. Cholesterol and pigmented stone.
- Cholesterol stones. These are usually yellow-green. They're the most common, making up 80% of gallstones.
- Pigment stones. These are smaller and darker. They're made of bilirubin.
Small stones can be asymptomatic initially and at times of gall bladder emptying may slip inside bile duct resulting surgical obstructive jaundice. It is a surgical emergency and may require clearance of bile duct (ERCP) followed by gall bladder removal. Whereas bigger stone causes recurrent mild pain initially and if gets impacted at gall bladder neck may cause moderate to severe pain over upper half of abdomen. Pain due to gall bladder stone may radiate to right upper back side. Gallstones may be asymptomatic, even for years. These gallstones are called “silent stones.