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Health Condition

Gallstones

About This Condition

Gallstones are hardened formations, composed primarily of cholesterol, that develop in the gallbladder.

Gallstones are commonly associated with bile that contains excessive cholesterol, a deficiency of other substances in bile (bile acids and lecithin), or a combination of these factors.

Symptoms

Gallstone attacks cause extreme pain in the upper-right quarter of the abdomen, often extending to the back. This pain can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Other Therapies

The most common medical treatment for gallstones is surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy). Mechanical shock waves (lithotripsy) may also be applied to break up the stones. Unfortunately, gallstones commonly recur following non-surgical forms of treatment.

References

1. Capper WM, Butler TJ, Kilby JO, Gibson MJ. Gallstones, gastric secretion and flatulent dyspepsia. Lancet 1967;i:413-5.

2. Toouli J, Jablonski P, Watts JM. Gallstone dissolution in man using cholic acid and lecithin. Lancet 1975;ii:1124-6.

3. Tuzhilin SA, Dreiling D, Narodetskaja RV, Lukahs LK. The treatment of patients with gallstones by lecithin. Am J Gastroenterol 1976;165:231-5.

4. Holan KR, Holzbach T, Hsieh JYK, et al. Effect of oral administration of ‘essential' phospholipid, 8-glycerophosphate, and linoleic acid on biliary lipids in patients with cholelithiasis. Digestion 1979;19:251-8.

5. Nassuato G, Iemmolo RM, et al. Effect of silibinin on biliary lipid composition. Experimental and clinical study. J Hepatol 1991;12:290-5.

6. Somerville KW, Ellis WR, Whitten BH, et al. Stones in the common bile duct: Experience with medical dissolution therapy Postgrad Med J 1985;61:313-6.

7. Werbach MR, Murray MT. Botanical Influences on Illness: A Sourcebook of Clinical Research. Tarzana, CA: Third Line Press, 1994, 166-8 [review].

8. Simon JA, Hudes ES. Serum ascorbic acid and gallbladder disease prevalence among US adults. Arch Intern Med 2000;160:931-6.

9. Simon JA. Ascorbic acid and cholesterol gallstones. Med Hypotheses 1993;40:81-4.

10. Simon JA, Grady D, Snabes MC, et al. Ascorbic acid supplement use and the prevalence of gallbladder disease. J Clin Epidemiol 1998;51:257-65.

11. Gustafsson U, Wang F-H, Axelson M, et al. The effect of vitamin C in high doses on plasma and biliary lipid composition in patients with cholesterol gallstones: prolongation of the nucleation time. Eur J Clin Invest 1997;27:387-91.

12. Breneman JC. Allergy elimination diet as the most effective gallbladder diet. Ann Allerg 1968;26:83-7.

13. Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men. JAMA 1999;281:2106-12.

14. Heaton KW, Emmett PM, Symes CL, Braddon FEM. An explanation for gallstones in normal-weight women: slow intestinal transit. Lancet 1993;341:8-10.

15. Marcus SN, Heaton KW. Intestinal transit, deoxycholic acid and the cholesterol saturation of bile—three interrelated factors. Gut 1986;27:550.

16. Watts JM, Jablonski P, Toouli J. The effect of added bran to the diet on the saturation of bile in people without gallstones. Am J Surg 1978;135:321-4.

17. McDougall RM, Kakymyshyn L, Walker K, Thurston OG. Effect of wheat bran on serum lipoproteins and biliary lipids. Can J Surg 1978;21:433-5.

18. Lee DWT, Gilmore CJ, Bonorris G, et al. Effect of dietary cholesterol on biliary lipids in patients with gallstones and normal subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1985;42:414.

19. Andersen E, Hellstrom K. The effect of cholesterol feeding on bile acid kinetics and biliary lipids in normolipidemic and hypertriglyceridemic subjects. J Lipid Res 1979;20:1020-7.

20. Misciagna G, Centonze S, Leoci C, et al. Diet, physical activity, and gallstones--a population-based, case-control study in southern Italy. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:120-6.

21. Kratzer W, Kachele V, Mason RA, et al. Gallstone prevalence in relation to smoking, alcohol, coffee consumption, and nutrition. The Ulm Gallstone Study. Scand J Gastroenterol 1997;32:953-8.

22. Pixley F, Mann J. Dietary factors in the aetiology of gall stones: a case control study. Gut 1988;29:1511-5.

23. Pixley F, Wilson D, McPherson K, Mann J. Effect of vegetarianism on development of gall stones in women. BMJ 1985;291:11-2.

24. Singh A, Bagga SP, Jindal VP, et al. Gall bladder disease: an analytical report of 250 cases. J Indian Med Assoc 1989;87:253-6.

25. Jayanthi V, Malathi S, Ramathilakam B, et al. Is vegetarianism a precipitating factor for gallstones in cirrhotics? Trop Gastroenterol 1998;19:21-3.

26. Sarles H, Gerolami A, Cros RC. Diet and cholesterol gallstones. Digestion 1978;17:121-7.

27. Kern F Jr. Epidemiology and natural history of gallstones. Semin Liver Dis 1983;3:87-96.

28. Misciagna G, Centonze S, Leoci C, et al. Diet, physical activity, and gallstones--a population-based, case-control study in southern Italy. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:120-6.

29. Stampfer MJ, Maclure KM, Colditz GA, et al. Risk of symptomatic gallstones in women with severe obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:652-8.

30. Maclure KM, Hayes KC, Colditz GA, et al. Weight, diet, and the risk of symptomatic gallstones in middle-aged women. N Engl J Med 1989;321:563-9.

31. Thornton JR. Gallstone disappearance associated with weight loss. Lancet 1979;ii:478 [letter].

32. Everhart JE. Contributions of obesity and weight loss to gallstone disease. Ann Intern Med 1993;119:1029-35.

33. Scragg RKR. Diet, alcohol, and relative weight in gall stone disease: a case-control study. BMJ 1984;288:1113-9.

34. Morrison LM. The effects of a low fat diet on the incidence of gallbladder disease. Am J Gastroenterol 1956;25:158-63.

35. Leitzmann MF, Rimm EB, Willett WC, et al. Recreational physical activity and the risk of cholecystectomy in women. N Engl J Med 1999;341:777-84.

36. Thijs C, Leffers P, Knipschild P. Oral contraceptive use and the occurrence of gallstone disease—a case-control study. Prev Med 1993;22:122-31.

37. Grodstein F, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, et al. A prospective study of symptomatic gallstones in women: relation with oral contraceptives and other risk factors. Obstet Gynecol 1994;84:207-14.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.

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