What should you do if you have gallstones? Gallstones are just that… stones that form in the gallbladder. The gallbladder resides in the upper right side of our abdomen. Did you know that 50-70% of patients with gallstones have NO symptoms.
A recent study followed gallstone patients for 25 years. Patients developed symptoms from those gallstones at a rate of 1-2% per year. For this reason, it is reasonable to follow patients along (do not do surgery–but instead watch for gallbladder colic symptoms). It is recommended that patients who are at high risk of biliary cancer and other operative or disease-related complications can be offered a prophylactic cholecystectomy (having the gallbladder removed without current pain) if the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks of observation.
Indications for consider of prophylactic cholecystectomy are those at risk of carcinoma (those with an ultrasound showing “porcelain” gallbladder, those of Native North or Southern American background, when cysts are also in the bile ducts, or a polyp in the gallbladder bigger than 1 cm). Otherwise, patients may consider removing the gallbladder if there are gallstones larger than 3 cm, if the patient lives far away from a healthcare facility, those with sickle cells disease or those who have had an organ transplant or are immunosuppressive therapy.
Hope this helps.