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Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder that may result in many symptoms, including: pain in the upper abdomen and back, vomiting or gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion and bloating. In most cases, you may not experience any of these symptoms if you have gallstones.

Gallstones develop because the bile in your gallbladder contains too much cholesterol or bilirubin, or your gallbladder is not emptying completely or often enough. Your gallbladder needs to empty bile regularly in order to be healthy and functional. When this does not happen, the bile can become overly concentrated, which causes stones to form. Gallstones can range in size from microscopic to more than one inch.
To diagnose gallstones, we may recommend an abdominal ultrasound and a CT scan to create pictures of your gallbladder. Through these pictures we can look for signs of gallstones. We might also suggesta HIDA scan, MRI or ERCP that highlights your bile ducts on images and can help us determine if a gallstone is causing a blockage. In addition to these scans, blood tests may reveal any other complications caused by gallstones.
Generally, treatment of gallstones is necessary only if you are having symptoms. Gallbladder removal surgery, also known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is the most common treatment available. Surgery is the only treatment that eliminates the chance that future gallstones will develop. However, most gallstones can dissolve or dislodge without having to undergo surgery.

TLC Now Offering Robotic Gallbladder Removal

If you have a medical condition and our general surgeons feel you shouldn't have gallbladder removal surgery, we may prescribe medications that work by dissolving cholesterol stones. Mild diarrhea can be a side effect of both medications. The downside of using either medication is that you may have to take it for years to completely dissolve the stones, or the stones may come back after you stop taking the drug.

At The Longstreet Clinic, our expert team of general surgeons will help you find the best treatment for gallstones. Contact Us today to request an appointment, or call 770-536-2323.