Gall Bladder Symptoms

Gall bladder symptoms (gallbladder) may arise due to a complication, injury, or disorder with the functioning or health of the gall bladder or associated organ systems. Typically the symptoms are the result of the blockage of the drainage of bile from the gall bladder due to obstruction of the duct that connects with the small intestine.

Depending on the cause of the complication or obstruction affecting the gall bladder (these sometimes also occur follow surgery or infection) the direct effects are typically varied. The formation of stones (gall stones, gallstones) in the gall bladder may lead to a partial or full blockage of the bile duct.

This or another complication could also lead to the general inflammation of the gall bladder, referred to as cholecystitis. Less commonly, a cancerous tumor of the bile duct could cause obstruction and symptoms. Often an obstruction caused by cancer is caused by pancreatic cancer since the bile duct passes through the pancreas, or from swelling of nearby lymph nodes.

Gall bladder symptoms:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain and discomfort
  • jaundice
  • fever (if infection develops)
  • chills (if infection develops)
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • skin irritation and itchiness
  • fatigue
  • pain in right shoulder

Diagnosis of gall bladder obstruction is typically through observations of the presenting symptoms. Depending on the cause, blood and liver tests may identify impaired bile secretion and/or elevated white blood cell counts. Ultrasound and/or CT scanning often provides definitive identification of bile duct obstruction. Bile duct tumors can be identified with tissue biopsy.

Treatment depends on the complication. Disruptive gall stones can be treated with surgical removal of the entire gall bladder. Alternatively drugs which help dissolve the gall stones may be administered.

Gall bladder inflammation (acute or chronic cholecystitis) can typically be treated with antibiotics or surigcal removal of the gall bladder.

Bile duct tumors can be treated with surgical bypass of the blockage to allow for resumed bile drainage. Treatment of the cancer itself varies depending on the type and origin of the tumor.

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