Gallstones are small, hardened particles of cholesterol crystals and other components of bile that develop inside the gallbladder. Your gallbladder helps your body digest foods by storing and releasing bile, which helps break down fats.
When a gallstone enters the bile duct, it can block the normal release of bile into the small intestine. A blockage can lead to inflammation, infection, and eventually, a gallbladder attack. This is a medical emergency. An infection can cause the gallbladder to burst. Dignity Health provides effective care to treat gallstones in Arizona. To learn more, Find a Doctor today.
Most people with gallstones — around 80 percent — never experience any symptoms until they have a gallbladder attack.
When an attack does occur, it causes severe pain in the upper right part of the abdomen. You may feel this pain or discomfort in the upper back or shoulder. Some people also have nausea and vomiting present during a gallbladder attack. If symptoms last for more than an hour, or you have a fever, call 9-1-1.
If you need to go to the ER, use our InQuicker™ online tool to select your estimated hospital arrival time and wait at home until your time to be seen. Upon arrival and check-in, you will see a doctor who will assess your situation and determine the next appropriate level of care.
While researchers don’t yet fully understand what causes gallstones, they do know that certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing them. These include:
- Age 40 or older
- Female gender
- Family history of gallstones
- Rapid weight loss
- Native American or Mexican descent
Gallstone Treatment at Dignity Health
Treatment for gallstones depends on whether or not you have symptoms. If a person has a gallbladder attack, the likelihood of having a second one is 70 percent.
At Dignity Health, our doctors may recommend gallbladder surgery to alleviate symptoms. The procedure can be done with minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgery, resulting in less scarring, less pain, and a quicker recovery time.
Having your gallbladder removed may cause temporary digestion problems. Most people recover within about seven to 10 days after surgery. Emergency doctors at Dignity Health are experienced in diagnosing and quickly treating cases of gallstones in patients of all ages. Visit your nearest ER to treat a gallbladder attack in Arizona.