Complications caused by gallstones

What is Cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is defined as the inflammation of the gallbladder. Most commonly this problem; inflammation arise in this system when the flow of the bile is stopped or interrupted due to stone (90%) or if infection of the biliary tract occurs.

The usual symptoms which cause problem in sudden acute inflammation is:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The attack may follow a large fatty meal

The symptoms may be severe colic or even mild. A diabetic patient may have minimal pain due to neuropathy. One should not wait for the complications to happen. Some of the complications like Pancreatitis, Gangrene, Empyema, perforation etc may be life threatening and complex to handle. Sometimes they are associated with morbidity and mortalities.

Biliary Pancreatitis

Biliary Pancreatitis is a very serious and life threatening condition and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. It occurs when gallbladder stones migrate into the common bile duct (CBD) and block the pancreatic opening.

Many patients may need a prolonged stay which may include ICU stay and other life supportive measures, many of them may end up with damaged and destroyed pancreas ultimately leading to conditions like Diabetes etc. It is also associated with high morbidity and mortality.

What complications can these stones cause?

  • Recurrent severe abdominal pain or vomiting
  • Pus formation in the gallbladder (Empyema)
  • Cholangitis (life threatening infection of biliary system)
  • Gangerene and perforation of the gallbladder
  • Acute pancreatitis (swelling of pancreas) which can have a catastrophic sequel of multi-organ failure and other serious complications
  • Jaundice due to blockage of common bile duct due to stones
  • Associated with cancer of gallbladder in the long term

GallBladder stones and association with Gallbladder Cancer

Association of gallbladder stones with gallbladder cancer is well established. It is a well documented medical fact that more than 85% gallbladder cancers have shown to have gallbladder stones as well.

Genes that may play a role in gallbladder cancers include KRAS, BRAF, CDKN2, HER2 and TP53 tumour suppressor gene. Some of the gene changes that lead to gallbladder cancer might be caused by chronic inflammation.

The female gender, multiple child births and obesity are some of the factors that are associated with high risk of developing gallbladder cancer. The evidences point towards the environmental and genetic factors playing an important role in the development of gallbladder cancer. The basis for the development of gallbladder stones likely occurs through chronic irritation and local production of carcinogens. The larger the gallstones the greater the association with gallbladder cancer.