The gallbladder is a tiny, pear-shaped organ situated below our livers on the right side of our abdomens; its function is to store the digestive fluid known as bile which is sporadically released into our small intestines.
Sometimes, hardened deposits of bile called gallstones can form in the gallbladder; these structures can be as miniscule as a grain of sand or as big as a golf ball. While some who develop this condition only have to deal with one gallstone, some are burdened with multiple at once. Gallstones that are asymptomatic generally don’t require treatment, while those that do cause symptoms generally require surgery for their removal.
There are two types of gallstones that can develop:
- Pigment gallstones: this type of gallstone forms if your bile contains too high a concentration of bilirubin; these appear dark brown or black in color.
- Cholesterol gallstones: these are the most common type of gallstone. They’re mainly made up of undissolved cholesterol and are yellow in color.
There are several risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing gallstones. These include:
- Being female
- Being Native American or Mexican American
- Being overweight
- Being 40 or older
- Being sedentary
- Consuming a diet that’s high in fats, high cholesterol, and/or low in fiber
- Having a family history of gallstones
- Having liver disease
- Rapidly losing weight
- Having diabetes
- Having some blood disorders, like leukemia or sickle cell anemia
- Taking medications that have estrogen in them, like hormone therapy drugs or oral contraceptives
The Mayo clinic recommends you seek immediate medical attention if you develop the signs of a serious gallstone issue:
- A high fever with chills
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
- Abdominal pain that’s so severe you can’t find a comfortable position or sit still
The Ezra abdominal, torso, and full-body scans screen your gallbladder for abnormalities. If you’re interested in learning more about our screening options and payment plans, you may do so at the following link.