Your gallbladder is a little organ on your right side, next to your liver. The gallbladder stores and secretes bile, a digesting fluid. Periodically, you might need to have your gallbladder surgically removed because of uncomfortable gallstones, inflammation, or infection.
When crystallized bile or cholesterol, which is used to create bile, becomes lodged in the cystic duct, it might cause a gallbladder attack. The most typical symptom is a sharp pain in the upper right side of your body, or occasionally in the middle of your abdomen beneath your ribs.
Knowing when to go to the hospital for a gallbladder attack is crucial. This article will explain what a gallbladder attack is, why you should go to the hospital for one, and when you should do so.
What Is the Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a little pear-shaped organ that is located beneath your liver on the right side of your belly. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is produced by the liver. Bile, a fluid, aids digestion in the small intestine by dissolving fatty acids from food.
Bile helps the body get rid of waste by being released into it and removed through feces. Despite having a key role in our digestive system, the gallbladder is not strictly necessary for the digestion and elimination of food, and you can live without one.
What is a gallbladder attack?
When stones of crystallized bile or cholesterol lodge in the cystic duct, a gallbladder attack occurs. As a component of your digestive system, this tube attaches to another duct coming from the pancreas.
The small intestine, where the fluids they carry assist break down fat, is where the two ducts combine and unite. Cholecyst is the anatomical name for the gallbladder. Acute cholelithiasis and acute cholecystitis are the terms used to describe when a stone or stones clog the gallbladder duct.
Gallstones can be as big as a golf ball or as little as a sand grain. Biliary colic, a severe form of pain brought on by obstructions, may come and go but usually remains continuous.
Gallstones typically disappear on their own. However, if they don’t, they might lead to issues that need urgent medical attention.
The signs of a gallbladder attack can also resemble those of other severe medical conditions. Calling a doctor is crucial so that you can receive an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Gallbladder attack signs
Gallstones that obstruct the bile duct put pressure on the gallbladder. Inflammation, acute pain, and other symptoms that may last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours can result from this.
Attacks on the gallbladder typically happen in the evening, frequently following a meal. Some signs could be:
- chest ache
- strong abdominal or center-right side pain that may radiate to the shoulder
You might fear having a heart attack because the pain can make it difficult to breathe.
How gallstones are discovered and assessed
It can be challenging to determine whether your symptoms are brought on by gallbladder issues or something else. This is due to the fact that the symptoms might be mistaken for those of other illnesses such as ulcers, appendicitis, pancreatitis, and even heart attacks.
By evaluating your symptoms, doing an examination, and running imaging tests, a doctor can make the proper diagnosis and recommend the most suitable course of action.
A gallstone’s size, position, and potential effects on other organs can all be determined through imaging studies, which can give your doctor vital information.
Gallstone imaging examinations come in a variety of forms. These include:
The most frequent imaging test for gallstones is abdominal ultrasonography. It can show pictures of the gallbladder and bile ducts and show where inflammation or blockage is present.
CT scan of the abdomen: This CT scan creates fine-grained images of the gallbladder and bile ducts. It can spot places where the bile flow is restricted and places where there is inflammation.
Using an MRI scan, a procedure known as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) can produce precise pictures of the surrounding organs. These comprise the liver, pancreas, pancreatic duct, gallbladder, and bile ducts. Gallstones, inflammation, and other organ-related issues can all be detected.
The surgical removal of the gallbladder is the most typical treatment for a gallbladder attack. Cholecystectomy is the medical word for this procedure. In addition to surgery, antibiotics might be administered intravenously.
Surgical techniques comprise:
The most frequent procedure for gallstones is laparoscopic cholecystectomy. A minimally invasive incision is used. It can be performed as an outpatient procedure, and recovery usually lasts a week.
Open cholecystectomy: Surgeons may need to create a wider incision to remove your gallbladder if it is extremely inflamed or if there is scar tissue nearby. The average hospital stay lasts about a week, and recuperation usually takes a month.
Your gallbladder is not necessary for maintaining a healthy digestive system. You may experience changes in your bowel habits following gallbladder removal surgery, such as less frequent stool movements. Usually, this is just transitory.
Your doctor may use drugs or a shock wave technique to break up your gallstones if they are made of cholesterol rather than bile.
If the gallbladder is not removed, gallstones, however, are more likely to recur. Doctors will treat any difficulties you experience as a result of a gallbladder attack in accordance with their nature.
Symptoms of a gallbladder attack complications
Gallbladder attack complications include:
The skin or eyes will turn yellow if you have jaundice.
Acute cholangitis: This bile duct infection can range in severity from minor to fatal.
Acute pancreatitis: This inflammation of the pancreas results in a sharp or dull stomach ache.
Gallstones, which are the solidified digestive fluids that cause gallbladder problems, become stuck in the tube that leaves the gallbladder. They are extremely painful, and the upper right side of your abdomen is typically where the discomfort is felt.
Go to the hospital if a gallbladder attack lasts longer than two hours, especially if you are vomiting or have a temperature. Untreated gallbladder attacks can lead to major problems. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is typically required for the treatment of gallbladder attacks.
Inform your doctor if you suffer from any symptoms, even if you believe they are due to gallstones and they go away. A healthcare provider must make the diagnosis of gallstones and gallbladder attacks since they can exhibit symptoms that are similar to those of other medical diseases.