Gallbladder disease is a common term for many of several conditions that can affect your gallbladder. These conditions often, although not always, cause pain in your gallbladder. The two major causes for gallbladder disease include:
- Intermittent or complete blockage of the bile ducts due to gallstones (Cholelithiasis)
- Inflammation of the gallbladder lining causing irritation or infection of the surrounding tissues (Cholecystitis).
Types of Gallbladder Disease
Occurring when the gallbladder fails to empty fully or often enough, the substances making up the bile within the gallbladder harden and form stones called gallstones. These stones then block the surrounding ducts.
This is most common form of gallbladder disease and results in the inflammation of the gallbladder wall. It can occur in a short amount of time (acute) or develop over a long period of time (chronic).
Although relatively rare, gallbladder cancer is a serious condition that is often discovered in the late stages or is misdiagnosed as gallstones. They are often in the form of polyps, or abnormal growths, which should be tested and labeled as benign or malignant.
When a gallstone blocks the duct leading to the pancreas, gallstone pancreatitis results. The inflammation a gallstone can cause is a serious condition that must be treated immediately.
There are other gallbladder diseases that result from either gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder including biliary enteric fistulas (leaking of bile through a damaged bile duct), sclerosing cholangitis (includes inflammation, scarring, and damage to the bile ducts, especially those connecting to the liver), and acalculous gallbladder disease (may result from the gallbladder muscles or valves not working properly).
Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease
- Severe pain in abdomen, specifically the mid- to upper-right section of the abdomen
- Back pain especially between the shoulder blades
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal bloating
- Intolerance of fatty foods
- Belching, gas, and general indigestion
- Dark colored urine, light colored stools
- Fever and chills
Gallbladder Disease Treatment
There are many options for the treatment of gallbladder disease available depending on the type of gallbladder disease you are diagnosed with.
- Antibiotics – Prevents any infection that is present from spreading when inflammation is present in the gallbladder.
- Extracorporeal Shock-Wave Lithotripsy – Helps to reduce small gallstones that are present by breaking them up using high-energy shockwaves shot through a machine through the abdomen.
- Chemotherapy and Radiation – Treatment for when gallbladder cancer is present or to prevent gallbladder cancer from returning.
- Gallbladder Surgery (Cholecystectomy) – Removal of the diseased gallbladder through various surgical means depending on your condition.
- Ursodeoxycholic Acid – An option for those unable to have gallbladder surgery. This oral medication helps dissolve gallstones present in the gallbladder.
- Contact Solvent Dissolution – A rarely used treatment option where a needle is injected directly into the gallbladder releasing a solvent to help dissolve present gallstones.
Choosing Your Physician
With over 20 years of highly-specialized experience and training, Dr. Mark Fraiman is recognized as an expert in the treatment of gallbladder disease in Baltimore.
Using multidisciplinary methods, as well as a patient-centered approach to care, Dr. Fraiman will develop an individualized and comprehensive plan for each of his gallbladder patients depending on their specific needs. He will accurately diagnose your individual problems and discuss the various treatments for gallbladder disease that are available based on what is best for you.