June 19, 2013
Gallstone disease is one of the most common reasons for patients needing surgery and the source of a great deal of misery. Fortunately, for the vast majority of patients, gallstone disease can be dealt with safely and fairly easily.
What is Gallstone Disease?
One of the many things your liver does is produce bile. This bile is secreted into your intestine through the bile ducts. In the intestine, it acts to dissolve the fat that we eat that the fat can be absorbed by the intestine.
In between meals, a small muscular valve closes where the bile duct enters the intestine. The bile that is produced then gets backed up into the gallbladder, which acts as a reservoir, both holding and concentrating the bile. After a person eats, the presence of food in the stomach and duodenum sets off a signal to the gallbladder which then contracts, adding bile to mix in with the food.
Approximately 20% of people (1 out of 5) form gallstones in their...