Gallblader & Bile Ducts



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Gallbladder

Gallstones and Acute Cholecystitis

Gallstones are found in the gallbladder. Gallstones can be symptomatic or asymptomatic.

Biliary colic is caused by intermittent obstruction of the gallbladder by the contained gallstones and can manifest as a spectrum of symptoms ranging from upper abdominal bloatedness and ‘indigestion’ after intake of food to severe right upper quadrant pain with cold sweat that is suggestive of full-blown colic.

The obstruction of the gallbladder can also lead to Acute Cholecystitis, an infection of the gallbladder and the contained bile. This manifests as severe and constant right upper quadrant pain with high fever and occasionally jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Common Bile Duct Stones and Acute Cholangitis

Gallstones can be dislodged from the gallbladder and end up ‘dropping’ into the common bile duct and causing an obstruction. The common bile duct is the main conduit leading from the liver to the duodenum with the gallbladder coming off as a ‘side branch’.

Obstruction of the common bile can lead to pain over the right upper quadrant of the abdomen with associated jaundice and tea-coloured urine and pale-coloured stools. The obstruction of the common bile duct can lead to an infection, known as Acute Cholangitis. The symptoms include those mentioned above with the addition of high fever and chills and shivering.

Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile Duct Cancer) and Gallbladder Cancer

A Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancer of the bile ducts. This is cancer with an insidious onset and is asymptomatic till the later stages. Jaundice is the main symptom associated with cholangiocarcinoma with minimal abdominal pain. Significant abdominal pain usually occurs only if there is infection of the common bile duct or if there is spread (metastasis) to the liver.

A Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancer of the bile ducts. This is cancer with an insidious onset and is asymptomatic till the later stages. Jaundice is the main symptom associated with cholangiocarcinoma with minimal abdominal pain. Significant abdominal pain usually occurs only if there is infection of the common bile duct or if there is spread (metastasis) to the liver.

 


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