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Gall stones issues?

By Anonymous December 3, 2008 - 12:06pm
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Have been having pain in my abdomen. What is the procedure for removaL?

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Thanks Susan -
I don't think the doctors have any idea if this will be a lifelong problem (sure seems like it at the moment). Just taking it day by day which is all anyone can do.


March 15, 2011 - 4:08am

Hi - I had my gallbladder removed 15 years ago. About 1 week after the surgery I was in such pain and completely miserable that I had to go back to the hospital. Turns out the surgeon let a stone get loose and it was lodged in my bile duct. Great - they removed that via ERCP & then cut my bile duct so that any future stones could just "pass." I was good for about 10 years and then bam I was hit with the pain again as if I still had the gallbladder. I had a fever and was completely miserable. It was back to the hospital. At that time the GI doctor prescribed and antibiotic and bed rest. I felt better for like 6 months and then the pain came on again. I decided I couldn't live like this and went to another GI doc (who happens to be head of the dept at this hospital and came highly recommended).

At this time he told me - I think you have "Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction" So in he goes with an ERCP and manometer reading and sure enough my pancreatic duct had been spasming so that has now been cut.

Well 4 years later the pain is back again. It would come & go sometimes lasting 5 minutes, sometimes lasting much longer. I kept taking Tums to try to make it go away and sometimes it seemed like it helped and sometimes it didn't. I had an MRCP which showed everything as normal and an ERCP which also showed nothing. Great. Then in October, 2010 the pain came on so strong and after 4 hours I decided to go the hospital - I was so miserable. They gave me an iv pain killer which was great and did labs. My liver enzymes were through the roof. The ultrasound & CT scans showed that my bile duct was dilated but didn't show any stones or anything. They determined I had cholangitis and put me on antibiotics (one of which made me sicker so I stopped taking it).

Well just this past week - the pain came back. It was minor at first coming & going in a few minutes but on Wednesday after 30 minutes or so I decided it's time to go back to the ER. I am not happy about this fact - however when dr. did the ERCP this time he found 2 gallstones in my common bile duct. I hate to say it but I'm glad he finally found something - at least now I don't feel like I'm going crazy.

I am afraid to eat now for fear of the pain coming back. I know I have to eat - so I'm trying to eat light and mostly fresh food and low fat/low carb. It's hard with 2 growing boys in the house but I don't think I have many more options.

Doctor did put me on urodiol which we hope will keep my body from creating more stones in the future - of course there are no guarantees.

The most frustrating part is that I didn't really eat that unhealthy to begin with. And that my husband has had about enough of my trips to the hospital, and to be honest I have as well. So I'm praying this new medicine helps - even if I have to be on it long term.

I'm 42 years old and can't imagine living with the fear of the pain hitting at any random time.

People don't understand how the body produces gallstones when you don't have a gallbladder. I've explained it more times than I can count. This is something the doctor's don't tell you when you go to get your gallbladder out - they can come back. It sucks. I feel for anyone with biliary colic seriously.

Now I'm home resting as I have to go back to work tomorrow - I feel wrung out but will somehow manage - as what other choice do I have??

March 13, 2011 - 6:41am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Lauraw7)

Hi Lauraw7

Thanks for sharing your story, it's insane that you've been dealing with this for so many years and the pain sounds absolutely dreadful. You must also feel like you're always waiting for an attack which really impedes on your life and your emotional state.

I hope you recover from this latest round as soon as possible. Do your doctors think that this is something you'll have to deal with for life? At 42 you have a lot of living to do!


March 14, 2011 - 12:05pm

First of all gall stones are a collection of crystals, mostly masses that looks like gravel.They could be various sizes from very small 1-2 mm or smaller, which resemble to sand to large stones like chicken egg. But, there is often a mixture of sand, smaller and larger stones, or one large stone in one patient.
They are present in 20-30% of the population. One of three women and one in five men aged over 75 years have gallstones. They often occur in women and so known is the ratio of the presence of gallstones in women compared to men 4:1. Gallstones are solid deposits of stones that may occur in the gall bladder (gall bladder symptoms )ror bile tract. They are formed when some of the ingredients of gall juice sediments as a harden mass in the gall bladder. Gallstones produce symptoms in about 50% of people who have them. The greater is the likelihood of reporting symptoms in younger people compared to people older than 60 years.
Most spectacular symptom which gallstones produce is biliary colic. It is presented as a strong, constant, dull pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen or under the right costal arch. Pain begins suddenly, lasts a few hours, and then you have a feeling of dull pain for the next 24 hours. Patients are often unrest and are looking for the position of the body which would reduce the pain. Pain can expand under the right shoulder blade.

August 7, 2010 - 3:34am

I can tell you from personal experience that gallstones attacks are the closest to giving birth. The pain scores a 10 on a 1-10 pain scale. There is also pain after eating certain foods such as high fat, hard to digest foods. Wine suppose to be good for preventing gallstones.

I had 3 serious attacks that required 911 calls before I decided to have the gallbladder removed. Different people will experience living with gallstones differently.

A doctor back in 1990 told me that I did not match the perfect profile for having gallstones. In medicine circles this profile is called the four "F"s (Fertile, Fat, in your Forties and Female). I met two of them back then: fertile and female. On the other hand, gallstones are also hereditary, my father had them, my older brother had them and my younger brother had kidney stones. So by genetic design we are a stone factory family. And probably when I was younger I was not as wise as I am today regarding healthy eating habits, proper hydration and nutritional supplementation.

My gallbladder was finally removed in 1990 when an ultrasound showed obstruction on the bile duct by a large stone. I had a total of 15 stones inside the gallbladder sack. The preceeding attacks felt like heart attacks, I did not know the first time what hit me, but thanks to an ultrasound in the hospital, I learned what was going on. The second and third ER trips were as bad but knowning it was not my heart, I felt more relaxed...

Nowadays there are medical options to treat gallstones without surgery. There is also a very simple surgical procedures to remove the gallbladder. It is done mostly as a same day surgery, it is called laparoscopic cholecystectomy. I had it done when it was still very experimental and only pigs had been the patients. I did fine and went to work the next day.

Despite the removal of my gallbladder, seven years later while stationed with the Navy in Washington DC, I was driving home and all of a sudden a terrible, familiar pain took my breath away, but I knew I had no gallbladder any more, so what was happening? Heart attack! I took a quick exit and ended up at a stranger's home asking for help. They called 911 and the ambulance took me to the nearest ER. It was determined that gallstones left behind from prior surgery had obstructed the bile duct near the pancreas, bile had built up causing acute pancreatitis. I could not believe it!!! After all those years, I was still making stones!

So, I have to live with my genes and I must check periodically pancreatic functions to ensure there are not more stones growing. Since I no longer have the gallbladder, the bile duct would be the place for stones to form and grow. I am also religious about eating foods that are easy to digest, I like raw veggi smoothies and cleanse my liver every six months.

December 3, 2008 - 9:38pm
HERWriter Guide

Dear Anon

Thanks for your question. Let's talk a little about gall stones first.

What are they?

Gall stones are very small pebble-like substances that are found in the gallbladder which is right below your liver.

Most gallstones are made up of cholesterol that has hardened. Others are made up of bilirubin - a breakdown product of hemoglobin.

The gallbladder stores bile, and the body uses bile to break down fat. When stones are formed in the bladder, they can block the bile from preforming its job.

How do I know if I actually have them?

They can be diagnosed via a blood test, scans, or a tiny camera is sent down your throat and into the abdomen to locate the stones. You are under sedation (usually "twilight" sedation, for this).

How are they removed?

Gall stones are usually removed laproscopically - meaning a small abdominal incision is made and a tiny camera is used to locate the gallbladder and remove it via the incision.

Gall stones can also be removed by ingesting drugs that cause the stones to dissolve - this treatment can take up to several months.

Another treatment is called Contact dissolution therapy where the drug is directly injected into the stones to dissolve them. It works more quickly that taking drugs by mouth but can see more complications.

It's up to you and your doctor which method you choose. Some gall stones go away by themselves.

Gall stones can cause pain in the right hand side of the back, pain in between the shoulder blades and nausea or vomiting.

You are more at risk if you are older, over weight, are female, have a less than ideal diet, or with a family history of gall stones. However, anyone can get gall stones.

Where are you experiencing the pain? Are you sure this is gall stones? Do you have a family history of gall stones? Have you seen a doctor yet?

If you can answer some of these questions, we can help you more!

December 3, 2008 - 2:10pm
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