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Educational Materials


Gall bladder is the place to store bile produced by the liver, in order to breakdown the fat in food. However, if you have family history, over 40 years old, obese or have given birth before, your risk of having gallstone is relatively higher. The formation of gallstone is mostly gradual and commonly present in the gall bladder and rarely in the bile duct. The ratio of male and female patient is similar in general.

Symptoms of gallstone

“Do you often feel stomach ache or stomach fullness after meals?” this may not be general stomach upset, and could possibly be the sign of gallstone. Some gallstones are discovered during usual body checks or when patients go to consultation due to stomach ache. Besides, fullness after meals, nausea and jaundice are common signs and symptoms of gallstones.

How to diagnose gallstones?

Doctors usually perform blood test and ultrasound examination to determine the presence of gallstones and their position. If it is suspected that the gallstones are located in the bile duct, MRI may be required for further investigation.

Treatment of gallstones

  • Medications to dissolve the stones: although medication may dissolve the stone, the fragments of the stone may fall into the bile duct and cause obstruction, leading to bile duct inflammation. Once the duct connecting to the pancreas is obstructed, pancreatitis may be caused. As medication treatment has quite a number of complications, most gall stones are surgically removed nowadays.
  • Surgical removal of gall bladder
  • Besides, the most effective diagnosis is to biopsy the rectum, though it may cause hematuria and urinary retention. It can only be performed after being assessed by urologists.

Gallstone surgery

It belongs to minimally invasive keyhole surgery which requires only one small hole on the naval, placing the endoscope or other surgical equipments with less than 5mm in diameter. During the surgery, surgeons would use the equipments to separate the gallbladder and the main bile duct, removing the gallbladder and the artery connected. Finally, the gall bladder will be separated from the liver, and taken out.

The differences between keyhole and other minimally invasive surgeries are the scars after the surgery. The former one has a scar in the naval, which can hardly be noticed with bare eyes. On the contrary, the later one requires 3-4 holes on the abdomen during surgery, which is more obvious than the former one.

Keyhole surgery requires about 1-1.5hours and 2-3 days hospital stay. If patients’ occupation is relatively static, they may return to work in about a week and recover in 3-4 weeks.

Gallstone post-operative care

After surgery, the frequency of defecation may increase. Since bile juice secretion is insufficient to breakdown the oil in the food. Therefore patients may have mild diarrhea due to indigestion. Most of them return normal after the adaptation period.

The risks of bile stone surgery include wound infection, bleeding, as well as damage to organs nearby (such as duodenum and the colon), though it is rare.

The information on this website is for general educational purpose only.
Readers should consult their physician before considering treatment, and should not interpret their condition solely based on the information above.