Microscopic Gallstones: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Gallstones are common health conditions that affect many people around the world. However, there is a type of gallstone that is less well-known, but equally concerning: microscopic gallstones. In this article, we will discuss the definition, causes, symptoms, and treatment of microscopic gallstones.
What are Microscopic Gallstones?
Microscopic gallstones are tiny gallstones that cannot be seen on an ultrasound or X-ray. They are usually detected during surgery or by examining the gallbladder tissue under a microscope. Microscopic gallstones are small, hard deposits that form in the gallbladder due to an imbalance of cholesterol, bile salts, and other substances.
Causes of Microscopic Gallstones
The exact cause of microscopic gallstones is not known. However, there are several factors that can increase the risk of developing them, including:
- Age: People over the age of 60 are more likely to develop microscopic gallstones.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop microscopic gallstones than men.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing microscopic gallstones.
- Genetics: A family history of gallstones increases the risk of developing microscopic gallstones.
Symptoms of Microscopic Gallstones
Microscopic gallstones do not always cause symptoms. In fact, many people who have microscopic gallstones are unaware of their existence. However, if the microscopic gallstones block the flow of bile, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
Diagnosis of Microscopic Gallstones
Microscopic gallstones are typically detected during surgery or by examining the gallbladder tissue under a microscope. However, if the microscopic gallstones are causing symptoms, the doctor may order an ultrasound or a CT scan to detect them.
Treatment of Microscopic Gallstones
If microscopic gallstones are causing symptoms, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the gallbladder. This is known as a cholecystectomy. The surgery is usually done laparoscopically, which means that several small incisions are made in the abdomen to insert a camera and surgical instruments.
If surgery is not an option, the doctor may recommend medications to dissolve the gallstones. Ursodeoxycholic acid is a medication that can dissolve small gallstones over time. However, it may take several months or even years to dissolve the gallstones completely.
Microscopic gallstones are small, hard deposits that form in the gallbladder. They can cause symptoms if they block the flow of bile. Treatment may include surgery or medications to dissolve the gallstones. If you are experiencing symptoms of microscopic gallstones, it is important to talk to your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.
- Can microscopic gallstones be prevented?
- While the exact cause of microscopic gallstones is not known, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a low-fat diet, and staying physically active can help reduce the risk of developing gallstones.
- How long does it take to recover from a cholecystectomy?
- Most people can return to normal activities within a week or two after surgery. However, it may take several weeks to fully recover.
- Are there any risks associated with a cholecystectomy?
- As with any surgery, there are risks associated with a cholecystectomy, including bleeding, infection, and damage to nearby organs.
- Can gallstones come back after surgery?
- No, gallstones cannot come back after the gallbladder has been removed.