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Complications of untreated gallstones

Gallstones, tiny hardened deposits within the gallbladder, are a common medical condition, especially in those over the age of 40. While some individuals with gallstones remain asymptomatic, others may face severe complications if left untreated. At Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, we understand the importance of early diagnosis and treatment for gallstones to prevent these potential complications.

Why can gallstones be problematic?

The gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ located beneath the liver, stores bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver. Bile aids in the breakdown of fats during digestion. Gallstones can obstruct the flow of bile, leading to various complications.

Potential Complications of Untreated Gallstones

Inflammation of the Gallbladder (Acute Cholecystitis)

When a gallstone blocks the gallbladder's bile duct, bile can become trapped, causing inflammation. This condition, known as acute cholecystitis, is characterized by intense pain in the upper right abdomen, fever, and chills. If left untreated, it can progress to a life-threatening infection called septicemia.

Blockage or Infection of the Bile Ducts (Acute Cholangitis)

Gallstones can also obstruct the bile ducts, the pathways that carry bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. This blockage can lead to inflammation of the bile ducts, known as acute cholangitis. Symptoms include:

  • Severe upper abdominal pain.
  • Fever.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Potential liver problems.

Blockage and Inflammation of the Pancreatic Duct (Pancreatitis)

The pancreatic duct connects the pancreas to the common bile duct. If a gallstone blocks this duct, it can cause pancreatic inflammation, a condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a severe condition characterized by intense, constant abdominal pain that may require hospitalization.

Gallbladder Cancer

While rare, individuals with a history of gallstones have an increased risk of gallbladder cancer. The trouble is higher for those with larger gallstones or a family history of gallbladder cancer. In some cases, preventive gallbladder removal may be recommended.

Seeking Medical Attention for Gallstones

It is crucial to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, particularly after fatty meals, fever, jaundice, or unexplained weight loss. Early diagnosis and treatment of gallstones can prevent the development of these potentially serious complications.

At Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, our experienced gastroenterologists and surgeons are equipped to provide comprehensive care for gallstones, from diagnosis to treatment. We offer a range of treatment options, including minimally invasive laparoscopic gallbladder removal, to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.

Remember, early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to preventing the complications of gallstones. Consult our experts at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for expert care and guidance.

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