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Gallbladder Gallstones in New Jersey

The Digestive Health & Nutrition Center, with two convenient locations in Lawrenceville and Princeton New Jersey where you can receive the exceptional care you deserve. Dr. Angela Merlo, M.D. is an experienced Gastroenterologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of gallbladder gallstones.

What are Gallbladder Gallstones?

Gallbladder Gallstones are solid collections of material that form inside the gallbladder. The gallbladder is located in the upper right abdomen under the liver. The gallbladder concentrates and stores bile produced by the liver. Bile is needed to digest and absorb fatty acids and certain vitamins. The gallbladder contracts and bile is released when fatty foods are eaten and reach the digestive area.  Problems arise when gallstones prevent the normal functioning of the gallbladder, when they block the exit from the gallbladder so bile cannot be released, or when they exit with bile and are trapped in the ducts carrying bile away from the gallbladder.

What are Symptoms of Gallbladder Gallstones?

Most gallbladder gallstones cause no symptoms and pose no problem to health.  When symptoms are present they are similar to symptoms produce by other disorders so that accurate diagnosis is crucial. Symptoms of gallstones include:

  • Pain in the right upper abdomen
  • Pain in the back under right shoulder
  • Bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Indigestion

Infection or trapped gallstones need urgent medical attention. Alarm symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Severe and persistent pain
  • Jaundice or yellow color to skin or eyes

What Causes Gallbladder Gallstones?

Experts do not know what causes gallstones. Most gallstones contain cholesterol but having high cholesterol is not associated with gallstones. Risk factors for developing gallbladder gallstones are:

  • Female gender
  • Family history of gallstones
  • Obesity
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medical conditions such as Diabetes and Crohn’s Disease
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Certain medications such as estrogens

Diagnosis of Gallbladder Gallstones

Accurate diagnosis requires confirming the presence of gallstones as well as assuring that the gallstones are the cause of symptoms.  An ultrasound is the easiest and most commonly recommended diagnostic test when Dr. Merlo needs to confirm the presence of gallstones.  Gallstones can also be identified on other radiographs such as MRI or CT scans.

If Dr. Merlo suspects that your gallbladder is not working properly, a nuclear medicine study known as a HIDA scan may be recommended. A HIDA scan will give Dr. Merlo information about the functioning of your gallbladder. Other tests such upper endoscopy may be recommended to exclude other disorders such as stomach ulcers.

How are Gallbladder Gallstones Treated?

Gallstones that are not causing symptoms are not usually treated.  Gallstones trapped in the bile duct leading into the small intestine can be removed by a specialized endoscopic procedure called Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP. A gallbladder that does not function properly or is infected or chronically inflamed from gallstones is usually removed surgically.  Dr. Merlo will address your concerns and formulate the right treatment plan for your particular situation.

If you have symptoms of Gallbladder Gallstones, contact the Digestive Health & Nutrition Center for an appointment with Dr. Merlo in Lawrenceville or Princeton today. Dr. Merlo is an experienced Gastroenterologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of gallstones.