Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

What Are Gallstones?C¡lculos biliares

What Are Gallstones?

The gallbladder stores bile, a fluid made by the liver. Bile helps digest fats in the foods you eat. Gallstones form when certain substances in the bile crystallize and become solid. In some cases, the stones don't cause any symptoms. In others, they irritate the walls of the gallbladder. More serious problems can occur if stones move into nearby ducts-such as the common bile duct-and cause blockages. This stops the flow of bile and can lead to pain, nausea, and infection.

Image of digestive tract, focusing on gallbladder

Common Symptoms

Gallbladder problems can cause painful attacks, often after a meal. Some people have only one attack. Others have many. Common symptoms include:

  • Severe pain or aching in the upper abdomen, back, or right shoulder blade

  • A dull ache beneath the ribs or breastbone

  • Nausea, upset stomach, or vomiting

  • Jaundice (a buildup of bile chemicals in the blood), which causes yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine, and itching

Treating Gallstones

If your stones are not causing symptoms, you may choose to delay treatment. But if you've had one or more painful attacks, your doctor will likely recommend removing your gallbladder. This prevents more stones from forming and causing attacks. It also helps prevent complications, such as stones passing into the ducts and causing infection or pancreatitis. After the gallbladder is removed, your liver will still make bile to aid digestion.

If You're Pregnant

Hormone changes during pregnancy can make bile more likely to form stones. If your gallbladder needs to be removed, your doctor will talk with you about the timing for surgery. In some cases, it can be delayed until after childbirth. In others, you may have surgery during pregnancy. This helps protect you and your baby's health.

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2007-11-15T00:00:00-07:00

For top-quality, up-to-date care for gastrointestinal problems, trust the board-certified, experienced GI specialists trusted by thousands of patients and their doctors for nearly 30 years. Call Gastroenterology Consultants at (281) 481-9400 or fill out our online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation with us.

Gastroenterology Consultants

Ellington

444 FM 1959, Suite A,
Houston, TX 77034
Direct Phone: 281-481-9400

St. John

2060 Space Park Drive, Suite 306
Nassau Bay, TX 77058
Direct Phone: 281-892-2460

Clear Lake

250 Blossom Street, Suite 210 Webster, TX 77598
Direct Phone: 281-316-1119

Pasadena

4211 Fairmont Parkway
Pasadena, TX 77504
Direct Phone: 832-456-8434

Pearland

15015 Kirby Dr. Ste.200A
Pearland, TX 77047
Direct Phone: 713-343-6360

League City

2555 S. Gulf Freeway Ste. 500
League City, TX 77573
Direct Phone: 281-481-9400

Gastroenterology Consultants is a leader in advanced, comprehensive gastrointestinal care. We specialize in up-to-date gastrointestinal care, which includes screening and treatment for colon cancer, heartburn and acid reflux, esophageal disorders and difficulty swallowing, peptic ulcers, H. pylori, gallstones and other gallbladder disorders, rectal bleeding and hemorrhoids, malabsorption and celiac disease, liver diseases - hepatitis C, hepatitis B, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, hepatoma and liver cancer, abdominal pain, noncardiac chest pain, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, anemia, nausea and vomiting, gas and bloating and lactose intolerance

Gastroenterology Consultants also offers colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer, EGD & capsule endoscopy small-bowel, endoscopic ultrasound, Bravo 48-hour pH monitoring, H. pylori breath testing, esophageal manometry and impedance testing, hemorrhoid band ligation, esophageal dilatation, advanced therapeutic ERCP, Biologic therapy, treatment of Barrett's esophagus, common bile duct stones and endoscopic mucosal resection.