Gallstones are formed in the gallbladder. They are made of cholesterol. Stones sometimes move out of the gallbladder and travel up the common bile duct. They get stuck there. Gallstones in the bile ducts or Bile duct stones – when gallstone is present in the common bile duct the condition is known as Choledocholithiasis.
The stones in the common bile duct are less common than gallstones. When compared to stones in the gallbladder, stones that have moved away from gallbladder to the common bile duct, cause more severe and serious complications. Cholangitis may result as the stones block the common bile duct. This is a serious infection. Another condition called pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) may result due to the blockage of common bile duct by gallstones.
Why Do Gallstones Develop?
There are many reasons for the development of gallstones, including:
- High concentration of bilirubin and cholesterol in the bile.
- Blood disorders
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Quick weight loss
- Lazy gallbladder (it doesn’t empty completely)
Symptoms of Bile duct stones
Stones in the common bile duct cause complete blockage of the duct. When this happens – it may lead to pancreatitis, infection and jaundice. Those who have this condition may experience pain in the upper right side of the abdomen and between the shoulder blades. Dark urine is another symptom associated with bile duct stones in people even if they drink enough water.
Biliary colic or gallbladder attack is a term used to describe pain associated with gallstones in individuals who have gallstones.
Risk factors for gallstones
The risk of developing gallstones increases if a person:
- Is overweight
- Has a family history of stones (any of the family members has gallbladder stones)
- Is over the age of 40 years
- Is a woman
- Takes several medicines
- Takes cholesterol lowering drugs
- Eats cholesterol and fat-rich diet
- Has Crohn’s disease
- Has diabetes
- Has some blood disorders
- Has lost excess weight within no time
Diagnosis of Gallstones
An ultrasound is an accurate and painless test to detect gallstones.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a commonly used diagnostic and therapeutic test for the treatment of bile duct stones. Gallstones in the common bile duct are removed using an endoscope.
Gallstones present in the common bile duct must be removed even if they do not cause any symptoms. ERCP is the most preferable procedure to remove the stones found in the bile duct.