(redirected from Gall stones)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.


a stonelike mass (calculus) in the gallbladder; the presence of gallstones is known medically as cholelithiasis. The cause is unknown, although there is evidence of a connection between gallstones and obesity; an excess of cholesterol in the bile appears to be of major importance. Gallstones are most common in women after pregnancy, and in both men and women past age 35. They may be present for years without causing trouble. The usual symptoms, however, are vague discomfort and pain in the upper abdomen. There may be indigestion and nausea, especially after eating fatty foods. X-rays will generally reveal the presence of gallstones, either directly or by use of a dye introduced into the gallbladder (cholecystography).

The most common complication of gallstones occurs when one of the stones escapes from the gallbladder and travels along the common bile duct, where it may lodge, blocking the flow of bile to the intestine and causing obstructive jaundice. This condition should be corrected by surgery before the liver is damaged or problems with infection ensue.

When a gallstone travels through or obstructs a bile duct it can cause biliary colic, with severe pain. The pain is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen and radiates as far as the scapula. morphine is usually not given to relieve the pain because it increases spasm of the biliary sphincters. meperidine, which does not have this side effect, is the preferred medication for pain. Treatment may also include insertion of a nasogastric tube for the purpose of gastric suction to relieve distention in the upper gastrointestinal tract. ursodiol is a drug that can dissolve gallstones and reduce the need for surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery is the usual method of treatment and is performed as soon as the patient is able to withstand it. In most cases the gallbladder is removed and a tube is inserted to establish drainage of bile that has been dammed up by the stone. (See also discussion of surgery at gallbladder.) For those patients unable to withstand cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) but who still require drainage, cholecystostomy is indicated.
Common anatomic locations of gallstones. From Malarkey and McMorrow, 2000.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


A concretion in the gallbladder or a bile duct, composed chiefly of a mixture of cholesterol, calcium bilirubinate, and calcium carbonate, occasionally as a pure stone composed of just one of these substances.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


A small, hard, pathological concretion, composed chiefly of cholesterol, calcium salts, and bile pigments, formed in the gallbladder or in a bile duct.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Gastroenterology A concrement in the gallbladder or the cystic duct Epidemiology 10% of adults have gallstones–GS; ↑ with age; ♀:♂ = 2:1; highest in Scandinavia, Chile, Native Americans; ↑ risk with childbearing, ERT, OCs, obesity, rapid weight loss Types Cholesterol, bilirubin, calcium salts; cholesterol GSs constitute 75% of total in Western nations; up to 80% of the volume is cholesterol; non-cholesterol GSs are either black or brown GSs Clinical Biliary colic, recurrent upper-quadrant pain; fatty food intolerance, while suggestive, is nonspecific; GSs may be associated with acute cholecystitis which causes severe abdominal pain, N&V, fever, leukocytosis Diagnosis Ultrasonography, cholescintigraphy, cholecystography Management Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, percutaneous dissolution of gallstones by MTBE–methyl- tert-butyl ether, via a percutaneous transcutaneous catheter, shock-wave lithotripsy. See Black gallstone, Brown gallstone, Soluble fiber.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A concretion in the gallbladder or a bile duct, composed chiefly of a mixture of cholesterol, calcium bilirubinate, and calcium carbonate, occasionally as a pure stone composed of just one of these substances.
Synonym(s): cholelith.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


(gol'ston) [AS. gealla, sore place, + stan, stone]
Enlarge picture
GALLSTONES: Seen endoscopically (orig. mag. ×3)
A concretion formed in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Gallstones are found in about 15% of men and 30% of women in the U.S., i.e. in about 20 million Americans. They may cause pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen (biliary colic) or they may be clinically silent. Gallstones typically are made either of crystallized cholesterol deposits or calcium crystals ionized with bilirubin. Cholesterol stones are about four times as common as calcium-containing stones (also known as pigment stones). Either type of stone may cause biliary symptoms such as pain or inflammation of the gallbladder; the two types of stones differ in that cholesterol stones are nonradiopaque and may on occasion be dissolved by medication, whereas calcium-containing radiopaque stones are not amenable to chemical dissolution and are therefore visible on plain x-rays of the abdomen. illustration; Synonym: biliary calculus


Intense pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen that may radiate to the right flank, back, or shoulder is typical of biliary colic due to gallstones. The symptoms may occur after a fatty meal and may be associated with nausea or vomiting or fever. Jaundice may be present on physical examination.


Asymptomatic gallstones are neither removed nor treated. Symptomatic gallstone disease is treated primarily in the U.S. by laparoscopic cholecystectomy which, when successful, avoids prolonged hospitalization. Drug therapy for gallstones may include the use of ursodiol. Stones found in the extrahepatic bile ducts are treated surgically according to the presentation. Cholecystotomy is reserved for patients who are judged to be too ill to tolerate cholecystectomy, usually as a temporizing procedure. Gallstone lithotripsy is infrequently used because it is technically more complex than laparoscopic cholecystectomy (and relatively equipment and labor is intensive, and less universally effective).


Ursodiol (ursodeoxycholic acid), taken orally, is sometimes effective in treating cholesterol gallstones. Treatment may need to be continued for 1 year. A similar agent, chenodiol, is no longer available as it caused unacceptable incidence of hepatotoxicity.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners

Patient discussion about gallstone

Q. What arethe pros and cons of removingmy gallbladder due to gallstones

A. Pro - solves the problem (gallstones usually don't form in the absence of gall bladder

Cons - operation, with its complications: anesthesia, incision, hernia in the incision, infection etc.
Usually there are no chronic consequences for the absence of gallbladder.

However, this is only general advice - if you have any questions regarding this subject, you should consult a doctor (e.g. general surgeon).

You may read more here:

Q. What is a cholecystectomy and how is it done? My Doctor diagnosed me with gallstones and said I have to have a cholecystectomy surgery. What is this and how is it done?

A. Cholecystectomy is a surgery in which the gallbladder is removed. Don't be alarmed since you can live without your gallbladder. When the gallbladder is gone, bile flows directly from the liver into the small intestine.
You will probably have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which means a surgeon will make a small slit in your abdomen, then insert a tubelike instrument which has a camera and surgical instruments attached. This is used to take out the gallbladder with the stones inside it.
This procedure causes less pain than open surgery, is less likely to cause complications, and has a faster recovery time. This surgery is performed in an operating room and you will be under general anesthesia. It usually takes 20 minutes to one hour.

More discussions about gallstone
This content is provided by iMedix and is subject to iMedix Terms. The Questions and Answers are not endorsed or recommended and are made available by patients, not doctors.
References in periodicals archive ?
A few hours later she went under the knife for emergency surgery for gall stones.
The rate of post-operative wound infection after elective cholecystectomy varies from 7%-20% Thus, understanding the most common organisms causing them and their antibacterial susceptibility pattern would be useful in prevention of these infections as well as, We can give prophylactic antibiotics in asymptomatic gall stone disease that would prevent acute complications of gall stone disease.
For example, I remember a few years back, I was feeling sick and my friend, who is a naturopathic doctor, examined me and told me I had gall stones. For three days, I followed the strict diet and took some herbal capsules she prescribed and sure enough, it helped me.
He has lived with gall stone pain for two years and uses four boxes of paracetamol a month.
Gall stones can now be removed with the gall bladder by laparoscopic surgery in over 90 per cent of patients presenting with this disorder.
Mubarak had suffered from chronic calculus cholecystitis -- an inflammation of the gall bladder accompanied by gall stones -- and a duodenal polyp.
Ziauddin Hospital to remove the gallbladder of a woman diagnosed with gall stones. Dr.
The Tulkarem man is in Al Naqab Prison suffering from stomach injuries and gall stones. Palestinian Prisoner Society lawyers are calling on humanitarian institutions to immediately intervene."Effective action is required to save his life," the PPS reported Thursday of Odah who Israeli forces arrested nearly three years ago on 16 December 2005.
"I went to the doctor and then the hospital and they found I had three little gall stones."
"The tumour was picked up from a CT scan that was initially to check for gall stones. Then from diagnosis, Mum only survived 10 further weeks.
However, it can lead to anemia, which is the characteristic presenting symptom, and other health complications involving the spleen, gall stones, and heart failure.
"Fatty livers, gall stones, psychological disorders, sleep apnea, are all increasing in children--these are related to their being overweight and obese."