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What are symptoms of gallstones in women?

A:

Quick Answer

Symptoms of gallstones in women include pain that lasts for hours in the upper abdomen and upper back as well as nausea and vomiting, according to WebMD. Other symptoms include bloating, gas, heartburn and indigestion.

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Full Answer

A doctor uses a variety of methods to diagnose gallstones. After performing a physical exam, the doctor may order blood tests, an ultrasound or a CT scan. Other tests such as a cholescintigraphy or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography allow medical professionals to locate gallstones and observe the gallbladder function.

Physicians usually treat gallstones by removing the gallbladder, WebMD states. Most gallbladder surgeries today are performed laparoscopically, a procedure that creates small incisions that are less invasive. Most patients leave the hospital after an overnight stay. If doctors find gallstones lodged in the bile ducts, they may be removed before or after gallbladder surgery.

If a patient cannot tolerate gallbladder surgery, doctors prescribe medications that dissolve the gallstones, WebMD explains. The drawbacks of using a nonsurgical method are that the medication may take years to break down the gallstones, and they may reoccur. These medications may also cause mild diarrhea in patients.

Many patients with gallstones have no symptoms, WebMD says. Doctors may find the condition while examining the patient for another health issue.

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