Gallstones Formation

The gall bladder is a hollow, pear-shaped organ. It is located in the right upper part of the abdomen, just beneath the liver.   The function of the gall bladder is to store bile which is made by the liver. Bile is a digestive juice that helps the body digest fats. Bile flows from the liver into the gall bladder, where it is stored. During a meal, the gall bladder contracts and squeezes bile into the intestine.
Formation of gallstones

Gallstones usually form in the gall bladder, but they can also form anywhere where there is bile, e.g. in the ducts that carry bile.   Bile consists of cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts dissolved in water.  Bilirubin and cholesterol are present in the bile as waste materials that are being eliminated from the body.

Most gallstones form when there is too much cholesterol in the bile.   Cholesterol drops out of the liquid part of bile, just like excess sugar or salt form crystals at the bottom of a glass of water.  The tiny crystals of cholesterol group together to form the larger masses called gallstones. Cholesterol stones can also form when the gall bladder does not empty normally, and the bile is stored for long periods of time.

Some gallstones form from bilirubin. They are called ‘pigment stones’.
Pigment gallstones are the second most common type of gallstone.
Gallstone can also form in patients taking the antibiotic, ceftriaxone.
Ceftriaxone is eliminated from the body in bile in high concentrations.
Most of these gallstones disappear once the antibiotic is discontinued.
Individuals also can have ‘mixed’ stones, mixtures of cholesterol,
bilirubin, calcium, and other material.

Gallstones may be as small as a grain of sand or as a large as a walnut.
There can be a single stone or multiple stones. The medical name for gallstones is cholelithiasis.

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