That stomach pain could be your gallbladder

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J. Andrew Lovette, MD., FACS, general surgeon, CHI Memorial Surgical Associates


A gallbladder attack can be a painful – and potentially dangerous – medical condition. The gallbladder sits just below the liver and stores the bile that your body uses to aid in digestion. When there’s an improper balance of chemicals in the bile, it can harden into gall stones. In some cases, a gall stone may cause inflammation, infection or other serious complications.

Pain in the upper right abdomen, bloating, gas and sometimes diarrhea are all symptoms of a gallbladder issue. Symptoms can be mild and cause occasional discomfort after a fattier meal, or it can be severe enough to wake you up in the middle of the night and make you think you’re having a heart attack.

Treatment for gallstones is straightforward – a minimally invasive surgical procedure is used to remove the stones through four small incisions. Most people go home the same day, and full recovery is three to four weeks. Many people return to work sooner depending on their pain tolerance and job description. Most people aren’t aware they have gall stones because there’s no reason to test for them until symptoms arise.  Sometimes they are found through an ultrasound or CT scan that your doctor ordered for another reason.

If you do experience symptoms of gallbladder attack – with upper abdomen pain, fever, jaundice or a combination of these – it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. When a stone moves into the bile duct, a blockage can occur – leading to pain, jaundice, abnormal liver levels, or pancreatitis. In these more serious cases, an additional procedure to clear the bile duct may be necessary.

Dr. Andrew Lovette welcomes new patients at the Hixson office of CHI Memorial Surgical Associates, located at 2051 Hamill Rd, Suite 104, Hixson, TN 37343. For more information, call (423) 498-3010.

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Karen Long
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Doctor Talk, CHI Memorial's blog, focuses on health and welness.