How are you? Stones in the gall bladder
are a fairly common finding during ultrasound
of the abdomen. You do not need any additional tests to confirm the presence of gall stones
. But not all gall stones need treatment. In most cases, the stones do not cause any symptoms to the patient. It is especially true if there is a single stone. In some cases, when there is a small stone, it can spontaneously get expelled from the gall bladder. It is usually accompanied by pain and occasionally jaundice
The main danger of gall stones is when the stone blocks any of the ducts (tubes) draining bile. The stone can get stuck at the opening of the gall bladder (cystic duct) or in the main bile duct (especially at the lower end where it is joined by the pancreatic duct
and together they open into the intestine). It causes bile to back up and will cause pain in the abdomen and vomiting
, fever and jaundice. This scenario is more common when the stone is small enough to pass through the gall bladder opening, but for some reason gets stuck in the bile duct. It will need an ERCP to extract the stone. It is much more common when the gall bladder has multiple small stones.
In 99% of the cases, the treatment is accomplished by laparoscopic cholecystectomy
(removal of gall bladder by making three small cuts on the abdomen, guiding the surgery through a small camera inserted). It is a fairly routine surgery and could be done at most hospitals safely. Unfortunately, there are no medical therapies available once the stones have already formed.
In your wife's case, there are multiple small stones. Since you are apprehensive about surgery, I could suggest a wait and watch policy with a very low threshold for operation, meaning I would get the gall bladder removed at the earliest and the mildest of symptoms.
Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.
Dr. Suresh Raghavaiah