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The gallbladder is a small organ that aids digestion by storing and releasing bile, which helps breakdown fats. The gallbladder sits just under the liver. The liver makes bile and sends it to the gallbladder. Gallstones occur when hardened particles develop inside the gallbladder. Gallstones consist of cholesterol crystals and other parts of bile. If a gallstone enters the bile duct, it can block the normal release of bile into the small intestine.
Gallstones that do not cause pain are usually not a problem. However, gallstones can cause the gallbladder to become inflamed, irritated, or infected. A gallbladder attack is a medical emergency because an infected gallbladder can burst.
If you believe you have the symptoms of gallstones or a gallstone attack in Sacramento, CA or a surrounding area, let the highly trained emergency team at Dignity Health help you find relief. Use our online waiting service, InQuicker™, to select an arrival time at one of our six state-of-the-art ER locations. We provide exceptional care around the clock.
Health experts don’t fully understand why gallstones form. However, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing gallstones. Risk factors include:
Most people (about 80 percent) who have gallstones never have any symptoms. As a result, they never know they have them. Signs and symptoms develop when gallstones move into the duct leading to the intestine. Severe pain in the upper right part of your abdomen is the main symptom of a gallbladder attack. The pain may spread to your upper back or shoulder. Nausea and vomiting may also occur.
See one of our doctors right away if a gallbladder attack lasts for more than an hour or you have a fever.
Our options for treatment and prevention plans depend on whether or not you have symptoms with your gallstones. Once you’ve had a gallbladder attack, you have a 70 percent chance of having another one. Most doctors will recommend surgery to remove the gallbladder if you have symptoms of a gallbladder attack.
In most cases, our doctors can remove a gallbladder with laparoscopic surgery. Compared to open abdominal surgery, this approach usually results in less pain and a quicker recovery. You don’t need your gallbladder to live, but you may have temporary digestion problems right after surgery.