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Gallstones

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digested fluid known as bile. These deposits form in the gallbladder, a small organ located beneath the liver. The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver and then releases it into the small intestine as needed.

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What are the Types of Gallstones? 

Gallstones may range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball and they can be broken down into two types:

  • Cholesterol gallstones: One of the most common types of gallstones, this type is generally yellow in color and is mostly made up of un-dissolved cholesterol
  • Pigment gallstones: Pigment gallstones appear black or dark brown in color and form when there’s an excess of bilirubin in the bile. Bilirubin is a byproduct following the body’s breakdown of red blood cells

Risk Factors for Gallstones? 

Risk factors for developing gallstones may include:

  • Age (over 60)
  • Diabetes
  • Diet (low-fiber, high fat or high cholesterol)
  • Ethnicity (American Indian or Mexican-American)
  • Family history of gallstones
  • Gender (female)
  • Medications that contain estrogen (e.g. hormone therapy drugs)
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Rapid weight loss

Symptoms of Gallstones

While most gallstones are asymptomatic, symptoms can include nausea, fever, jaundice and dark urine.

Typically, however, symptoms only present when gallstones cause a blockage in a bile duct. When a blockage occurs, symptoms may include:

  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Pain in the right shoulder
  • Sudden, intense pain in the upper right section of the abdomen or just below the breastbone

The pain may last anywhere from several minutes to several hours.

Treatment Options for Gallstones

As previously stated, gallstones typically do not show any signs or symptoms. They are usually only revealed in an ultrasound or CT for an unrelated condition. Therefore, they often do not require treatment. 

However, gallstones that do cause symptoms may be treated in the following ways:

  • Surgery: Known as a cholecystectomy, surgery to remove the gallbladder may be recommended if gallstones frequently reoccur. Patients can live without complication void of their gallbladder and have no issue with digestion
  • Medication: There are certain medications that may be taken orally to aid in dissolving the gallstones but are typically reserved for patients who are unable to have surgery

Meet Our Doctors

Our Gastroenterology Centers in NJ

Hillsborough, NJ

511 Courtyard Drive Bldg. 500

Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Somerville, NJ

319 East Main Street

Somerville, NJ 08876

Warren, NJ

31 Mountain Boulevard Suite H 

Warren, NJ 07059

Recent Blogs

Learn more about all things digestive health and wellness by checking out our recent gastroenterology blogs.

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December 4, 2020
COVID-19 Update

To all our valued patients at Digestive Healthcare Center and Central Jersey Ambulatory Surgical Center Your health and safety are important to us. To help protect patients and staff, we have designated Digestive Healthcare Center and Central Jersey Ambulatory Surgical Center as a Patient and Staff “SAFE ZONE.” Our SAFE ZONE is defined by the safety […]

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October 1, 2020
Colorectal Cancer Screening: What You Should Know

What is Colorectal Cancer? At Digestive Healthcare Center, our team of expert gastroenterologists strives to ensure that patients have all the information they need to promote long term digestive health. In the case of certain gastroenterological conditions such as colorectal cancer, screening is incredibly important. Colorectal cancer starts in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. […]

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August 7, 2020
Gastroparesis Awareness Month – Learn More from DHC

What is Gastroparesis? At Digestive Healthcare Center, we want to ensure that patients have information about an array of digestive health conditions, to promote positive gastrointestinal health year-round. One such condition is gastroparesis, which is a digestive condition that affects the motility of the muscles in your stomach. Normally, after you swallow, the muscles within […]

Care for Gastroenterology Conditions in NJ at Digestive Healthcare Center

At Digestive Healthcare Center, our team of physicians has years of experience diagnosing and treating all manner of digestive disorders and conditions. We will work with you to determine the cause of your symptoms and create a personalized treatment plan for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our three gastroenterology centers in NJ or to set up a telemedicine virtual visit

About Telemedicine Visits

We are proud to offer telemedicine care to patients throughout NJ, allowing patients to consult with one of our expert gastroenterologists via a two-way video call. Setting up and completing a telemedicine visit is extremely simple, and all you need to do to get started is give one of our offices a call or contact us by filling out a form.