Around 25 million Americans have gallstones. Most gallstones are “silent” and don’t cause symptoms, but in about one-fourth of cases, gallstones cause serious pain and complications. At Gastroenterology & Nutrition of Central Florida, the highly qualified and top-rated gastroenterologists, Nehme Gabriel, MD, and Raj Borade, MD, specialize in gallstone diagnosis and care. They have three convenient locations in The Villages, Leesburg, and Brownwood Paddock Square in Wildwood, Florida, so book your appointment with online scheduling or call the closest office directly.
Gallstones are hard stones inside your gallbladder or bile ducts. They can be smaller than a grain of rice, as large as a golf ball, or anywhere in-between. You may have one larger gallstone or many small gallstones.
Cholesterol gallstones, the most common kind among Americans, are predominantly undissolved cholesterol. Bilirubin gallstones are mainly undissolved bilirubin. You can also have combination stones.
When gallstones cause symptoms, they can be quite serious and require immediate treatment.
In many cases, gallstones don’t cause any symptoms. But, if your gallstones prevent normal bile flow or get into the ducts inside your biliary tract, they can cause a gallstone attack. Symptoms of a gallstone attack often include:
Gallstone attacks can last for 15 minutes up to hours. The attacks frequently begin following a meal, but can also start overnight. Your attacks may occur at unpredictable intervals.
Untreated gallstones can lead to jaundice, pancreatitis, and other very serious complications. Usually, symptoms only occur if you already have gallstone-related damage, so getting care promptly at Gastroenterology & Nutrition of Central Florida is vital.
The exact causes of gallstones aren’t completely certain at this time. But, research shows that certain factors increase your risk of developing gallstones:
Race may also play a role, as certain groups have very different rates of gallstone disease. For example, Hispanics are quite vulnerable to gallstones, but Asians rarely develop them.
If you have asymptomatic gallstones, you usually don’t need treatment. But, if you’re having gallbladder attacks or complications, your doctor at Gastroenterology & Nutrition of Central Florida may recommend endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or cholecystectomy.
In ERCP, your doctor inserts an endoscope — a long slender tube with a tiny camera and light — through your mouth and into the first part of your small intestine. Then, they examine the bile ducts and remove stones within them. ERCP can’t remove stones inside the gallbladder.
If you have stones inside your gallbladder, cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) is the best treatment. Often, the Gastroenterology & Nutrition of Central Florida doctors perform this operation laparoscopically using small abdominal incisions.
If you’re not healthy enough for surgery, your doctor may recommend an alternative treatment like medication that dissolves cholesterol gallstones over time.
Call Gastroenterology & Nutrition of Central Florida, or click the scheduler, to book a gallstones appointment now.