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Apr 18, 2013

Healthy Living examines the complications of the gall bladder

Many persons have gall stones and would not know about it until the pain begins to strike.  The stones form in the gall bladder from cholesterol, bile, salts and calcium. While galls stones affect all age groups, its formation increases with age, especially among women. In this week’s Healthy Living, we look at the complications as well as treatments.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Gall stones are very common, and may show symptoms to only a few of the people who have them. Gallstones form in the gall bladder, an organ found under the liver, and occur when bile which is normally fluid, forms stones.


Dr. Philip Burgess, General Surgeon

“Gall bladder is a pear shaped organ located under the right side of the liver. The purpose of the gall bladder is to store bile and release it into the small intestine in response to your meals. And what the bile does—bile is a green substance that is produced by the liver—bile helps with the digestion of fats and it also is an excretory fluid. It is the way that the liver excreters cholesterol from the body among other things.”


Women are more vulnerable to developing gall stones than men and even though experts don’t know exactly why gall stones develop; they have pinpointed some risk factors such as age, high cholesterol, family history and obesity.


Dr. Philip Burgess

“The complications of galls tones are: essentially depend on where the gall stones are gall stones floating free in the gall bladder done cause a problem by themselves; except over a very long term. If you’ve had them for decades, there are talks that there is an increased risk of gall bladder, cancer, but that is very rare. More importantly is when the gall stone gets caught in the neck of the gall bladder and that can lead to pain and if it stays stuck there it becomes something we call acute cholecystitis; that is acute inflammation of the gall bladder. The outlet from the gall bladder is blocked so fluid bills up in the gall bladder. Then that affects the blood supply to the walls of the gall bladder and that causes a brother to get swollen and that causes the walls of the gall bladder to get swollen and red and painful and that can lead to infection of the gall bladder and actually perforation it can burst.”


Jaundice and inflammation of the pancreas are other possible complications.


Dr. Philip Burgess

“Fortunately the vast majority of people who have gall stones wouldn’t know that they have gall stones; they don’t have symptoms. I would say that about sixty to seventy persons of people with gall stones don’t ever get gall stones symptoms. And if you have gall stones and no symptoms, the rate at which you develop symptoms is two to three percent of people per year will develop symptoms. So if you have gall stones and there is no symptoms most of the time we will recommend no treatment, no surgery is necessary. People will develop symptoms and up to ten percent of those will develop severe complications.”


The treatment then would focus on the smaller percentage of percents that exhibit the symptoms: persistent pain the upper right side of the abdomen, jaundice or digestive problems.


Dr. Philip Burgess

“The most reliable and standard of care for the treatment of Gall ston4es and people who help symptoms is the laproscopic cholecystectomy; that is the removal of the gall bladder. That is the standard of care in the first world and most counties throughout the world today.”


This procedure is available in Belize; but Dr Burgess says he’s heard of several unconventional home remedies that his patients have tried.  He strongly advises against them.


Dr. Philip Burgess

“The home remedies that are prevalent now; that are out there. One is the gall bladder and liver cleanse which there are multiple version a bit but all of them have one thing in common that is drinking olive oil—sometimes a cup of olive oil, two cups of olive oil and repeats treatments over many days to week. What it does is that it is purported that you will pass out stool and in the stool you will have these gall stones. This is not true. Gall stones done come out of the gall bladder. In fact, they will say that you will feel it. And what you feel is just a response to the gall bladder to drinking a cup of oil. Any treatment that involved encouraging stones to be pushed out of the gall bladder and into the bile duct, it is very dangerous because that puts you at risk of getting blockage of the bile duct and getting jaundice and all the severe complications of these gall stones. But most important is that what comes out of the stool is not gall stones, it is a combination of the oil reacting with the digestive enzymes that you have and forming little balls of soap. It is a process called saponification and these little balls come out and the more olive oil you drink, the more stones will come out. If you do another ultrasound after this treatment, your gall stones will still be there.”

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