Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid (bile) formed inside your gallbladder. These deposits can vary in size and can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Gallstones do not always cause symptoms, but when they do, the symptoms can be very severe and usually require surgery.
Most commonly you will experience pain in the right upper side of the abdomen, which may occur after a large meal containing fried or fatty foods. This is known as a gallbladder attack or biliary colic. The pain lasts from a few minutes to a few hours and may resolve on its own. Such gallbladder attacks tend to recur with increasing frequency and intensity.
If the pain is associated with fevers, nausea, vomiting, and does not resolve; the condition is known as acute cholecystitis, which is the inflammation of the gallbladder. This is a surgical emergency in which the gallbladder needs to be removed in order to prevent serious infection.
Sometimes gallstones may pass from the gallbladder down into the bile duct and this can cause jaundice where the patient turns yellow. This is known as choledocholithiasis. If the gallbladder blocks the pancreatic duct, it can cause severe pancreatitis resulting in significant damage to the pancreas. Both choledocholithiasis causing infection and pancreatitis are very urgent surgical conditions that usually make the patient seriously ill and require hospitalization immediately to resolve the condition.
Gallbladder removal can be performed through tiny incisions using advanced laparoscopic or robotic surgery, so you have no noticeable scars. The procedure can be done as an outpatient surgery allowing you to return home on the same day as the surgery.
Dr. Arif Ahmad specializes in the laparoscopic gastric bypass, lap band and sleeve gastrectomy. He is renowned in the Long Island area for his impeccable track record of safety and success. Dr Ahmad conducts patient education sessions every two weeks at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson and in varying locations across Suffolk County. Please call (631) 689-0220 if you wish to register or have other questions.