A surgical team prepares a patient for gall bladder removal at Lourdes.
Surgeons at Lourdes prepare a patient for gall bladder removal.
Abdominal pain may be a sign of gall bladder disease.
Dr. Dana Tyrrell, a general surgeon at Lourdes hospital, said gall bladder disease is caused by either a malfunctioning gall bladder or stones blocking the flow of bile. The gall bladder is an organ attached to the liver that stores bile, a digestive juice. It secretes bile into the intestines to digest food.
“The most common symptoms of gall bladder disease are nausea, bloating and abdominal pain,” Tyrrell said. “It’s most commonly experienced on the upper abdomen, right side, but pain from gall bladder disease can be felt anywhere, from the chest, to the shoulders to the back.”
Tyrrell said gall bladder disease may be exacerbated by eating greasy foods. Fatty foods may cause cramping, pain, diarrhea or an upset stomach in a patient with gall bladder disease. Attacks of gall bladder disease may come on at any time.
“Some people with gall bladder disease, but no stones can change their diet to avoid greasy foods,” Tyrrell said.
“A bland diet may decrease symptoms, but once a person is diagnosed with gall bladder disease, we usually perform a laproscopic cholecystectomy.”
A cholecystectomy, or surgical removal of the gall bladder, is performed in cases of chronic gall bladder disease or when gall stones block the bile duct. Tyrrell said some patients with this surgery may suffer from diarhea as their bodies adjust to a new flow of bile.
“This may last for a month or two, then it goes away. For some patients, certain foods may trigger an upset stomach, but for most patients, it’s a well-tolerated procedure. It’s really not life-altering at all,” Tyrrell said.
Tyrrell said doctors once considered the most likely victim to be female, in her 40’s, pre-menopausal and overweight. Now doctors see gall bladder disease in all ages, men, women and children alike. Gall stones can be detected with sonography, while scans can show how the gall bladder’s function.
“There’s the question if it’s genetic or acquired,” Tyrell said. “Sometimes one patient gets it, and so does his parents and siblings. We don’t know if it’s genetic or because they’ve all had the same diet all their lives.”