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Gallstones: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions related to Gallstones.
Q: I had an ultrasound scan of the
A: About 60% of people with gallstones never have any symptoms and never get sick. They're just like you. Most might never even know they had gallstones. Their stones are discovered by accident, during tests for other diseases. If you do start having abdominal pain after fatty meals, indigestion, gas, bloating, or other symptoms, make sure to remind the doctor about the ultrasound scan results.
Q: Two friends went on crash diets, and lost a lot of weight real fast. Within a few months, both developed gallstones and needed surgery. How could dieting cause gallstones?
A: Rapid weight loss diets and fasting do increase the risk for gallstones. Both tend to increase the amount of
Q: Will I need to stay on a special diet after having my gallbladder removed?
A: People can live normally without a gallbladder. Your
Q: Ever since gallbladder surgery, I've had looser bowel movements. I also have bowel movements more often now. Could removal of my gallbladder have caused digestive problems?
A: Almost 1 in every 3 people have looser and more frequent bowel movements after gallbladder surgery. A few develop more troublesome diarrhea. Scientists think that gallbladder removal decreases the amount of time that food remains in the large intestine. The large intestine removes water from digested food and stores
Q: Two months ago, my wife went to the emergency room in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. The doctor said it was a gallstone attack, and recommended removal of her gallbladder. She's had no more problems since then. Could the disease have just gone away?
A: Some people do have just one gallbladder attack. But one attack carries about a 70% risk of having another. Your wife may be having symptoms, but confusing them with ordinary indigestion. If tests show that her gallbladder is infected or inflamed, immediate surgery may be necessary. Surgery also may be wise if there are more stones in her gallbladder or she does a lot of foreign travel, which could complicate a sudden need for surgery. Your wife should discuss her own situation with the doctor and find the best approach for her.
Q: Why should I have my gallbladder removed when non-surgical treatments are available?
A: Non-surgical treatments have plenty of disadvantages. One is that they usually are not a permanent cure. Drugs that dissolve gallstones, for instance, must be taken every day for months or years. They work for only certain kinds of gallstones. If you stop the medicine, gallstones usually start to form again. Shockwave therapy can break gallstones into pieces small enough to pass from the body. But it often doesn't work, and patients may have to take drugs for the rest of their life to keep new stones from forming.
Q: When my mom had gallbladder surgery, she stayed in the hospital for a week. It took her weeks at home to get back to normal. The doctor says modern surgery is a lot easier on patients. He says I need to stay just overnight, and can go back to work in about a week. Does that sound right?
A: Today, most gallbladder operations are done with a "Band-Aid" method. It is called "minimally invasive" surgery because it uses small incisions, instead of the 6-inch to 8-inch incision used in the past. The doctor operates through a