Gallbladder Pain & Symptoms in New Jersey
The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center has two convenient locations in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey where you can receive the exceptional care you deserve. Angela Merlo, MD is an experienced Gastroenterologist. Dr. Merlo is dedicated to providing the most accurate diagnosis and formulating the best treatment plan for adults and children with pain and symptoms of gallbladder disease.
What is Gallbladder Disease?
The gallbladder is a sac-like digestive organ located in the upper right abdomen under the liver. The gallbladder concentrates and stores bile formed by the liver. Bile is released by the gallbladder into the small intestine to help digestion of fats. Gallstones are solid collections that form inside the gallbladder. Many gallstones produce no symptoms. Symptoms occur with inflammation or infection in the gallbladder or when a gallstone blocks the exit from the gallbladder so bile cannot be released. The disorders of the gallbladder are
- Cholelithiasis (which means gallstones)
- Cholecystitis (which means inflammation of the gallbladder that can occur with or without gallstones)
- Functional Gallbladder Pain (which is a motility disturbance of the gallbladder in the absence of gallstones, sludge and inflammation)
What is My Risk for Developing Gallstones?
The risk for developing gallstones increases with
- Family history of gallstones
- Female gender
- Frequent fasting
- Lack of physical activity
- Liver diseases that lead to fibrosis or cirrhosis
- Medications containing estrogen such as birth control pills
- Weight loss that is rapid (including weight loss following bariatric surgical procedures)
What are the Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease?
The symptoms of gallbladder disease are not unique and are common to other digestive disorders. That is why an accurate diagnosis is crucial so the right treatment plan can be determined. Symptoms are
- Loss of appetite
- Pain after meals
- Pain in upper right abdomen that may radiate to right shoulder
- Unintentional weight loss
Other digestive disorders that produce similar symptoms include ulcers of the stomach or duodenum, infectious gastroenteritis, Celiac disease, food intolerances. Dr. Merlo may recommend tests such as upper endoscopy or breath tests to exclude these other disorders before she attributes symptoms to gallbladder disease.
What is the Treatment of Gallbladder Disease?
When symptoms are due to gallstones, the treatment is either extraction of gallstones by a specialized endoscopic procedure called ERCP or surgical removal of the gallbladder called cholecystectomy. Cholecystectomy is commonly performed today by laparoscopic technique. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy provides less discomfort and shorter recovery time than historic techniques. Ask Dr. Merlo what treatment is right for you.