Pharmacy Clinical Pearl of the Day: Gallstones

Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.

Clinical Pearl of the Day: Gallstones

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in the gallbladder.

Insight:

  • The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of the human abdomen, just beneath the liver.
  • Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.
  • People who experience symptoms from their gallstones usually require gallbladder removal surgery.
  • Gallstones that don't cause any signs and symptoms typically don't need treatment.
  • Symptoms include sudden and rapid pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, back pain near shoulder blades, pain in the shoulders, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Causes may include too much cholesterol in the bile, too much bilirubin, or the gallbladder not emptying correctly.
  • Risk factors: Being female, older than 40 years of age, native American, Hispanic, being sedentary, being pregnant, eating a high-fat diet, eating a high-cholesterol diet, eating a low-fiber diet, having diabetes or liver disease.
  • Diagnosis includes abdominal ultrasound, endoscopic ultrasound, imaging tests, and blood tests.
  • Treatment includes surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) and medications to dissolve gallstones.

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