Cholelithiasis is the medical term for gallstone disease. Gallstones are concretions that form in the biliary tract, usually in the gallbladder. Gallstones develop insidiously, and may remain asymptomatic for decades. Migration of a gallstone into the opening of the cystic duct may block the outflow of bile during gallbladder contraction. The resulting increase in gallbladder wall tension produces a characteristic type of pain known as biliary colic. Biliary colic consists of an intense, dull discomfort located in the right upper quadrant or epigastrium area, which may radiate as a hemi belt to the back (particularly to the right shoulder blade); it typically lasts 30 minutes to less than 6 hours. Cystic duct obstruction, if it persists for more than 6 hours, may lead to acute gallbladder inflammation (acute cholecystitis).
The treatment of gallstones depends upon the stage of disease. Asymptomatic gallstones may be managed expectantly. Once gallstones become symptomatic, definitive surgical intervention with excision of the gallbladder (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) is usually indicated. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is among the most frequently performed abdominal surgical procedures. Complications of gallstone disease may require specialized management to relieve obstruction and infection; thus, some authors advocate for definitive treatment despite a lack of symptoms.
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Cite this: Jamie Shalkow, Daniel Margain. Fast Five Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of Gallstones - Medscape - Jun 12, 2018.