Dr. Iqtidaar Hussain. MBBS. FCPS. Consultant Urologist.
Bladder stones or gall bladder stones are hard buildups of minerals that form in the urinary bladder. Your gallbladder is small pear shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen.
Gallbladder stones are a common cause of abdominal pain. Gall stones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Gallstones are common in Pakistan. Keeping a healthy lifestyle can protect you from the formation of gallstones in your body. The gall bladder is a small organ just below the liver in the right upper abdomen. The gall bladder stores bile juice formed by the liver and helps in digestion of food. Stones in the gall bladder can create health problems so it is best to remove them surgically.
How are bladder stones caused?
Bladder stones are usually caused by another urinary system problem, such as:
Almost all bladder stones occur in men. Bladder stones are much less common than kidney stones.
Bladder stones may occur when urine in the bladder is concentrated and materials crystallize. Bladder stones may also result from foreign objects in the bladder.
Who is at Risk for Bladder Stones?
Ans: More than 95 percent of people that develop bladder stones are men—especially older men who have problems with their prostate gland. Men in their 80s have a much higher risk than younger men. However, even men in their 30s can develop stones if they live in industrialized countries—regions more likely to have diets high in fat and sugar. Other risk factors are:
What are the types of gall stones?
Cholesterol gallstones develop when bile contains excess cholesterol and not enough bile salts. The obese are at risk, besides women on oestrogen medication, diabetics and those losing weight rapidly. Pigmented stones are made up of bilirubin and risk factors for pigment stones include hemolytic anemias such as sickle-cell disease and hereditary spherocytosis, cirrhosis or liver failure, and biliary tract infections. Mixed stones are the most common. They are composed of both cholesterol and salts.
How are gallstones diagnosed?
Ans: Gallstones may remain asymptomatic or may lead to gallstone attack intense pain in the upper-right side of the abdomen, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, that steadily increases.
What usually are the symptoms?
Ans: Symptoms occur when the stone irritates the lining of the bladder or blocks the flow of urine from the bladder. Symptoms can include: • Abdominal pain, pressure • Abnormally colored or dark-colored urine • Blood in the urine • Difficulty urinating • Frequent urge to urinate • Urinary tract infection • Fever • Painful urination • Urinary urgency • Loss of control over urine may also occur with bladder stones.
How are they identified?
Ans: An ultrasound usually identifies the stones.
What is the treatment?
Ans: Drinking 6 – 8 glasses of water or more per day to increase urination may help the stones pass if they are small. Your doctor may remove stones that do not pass on their own using a cystoscope ,which is a small tube that passes through the urethra to the bladder. Some stones may need to be removed using open surgery. Medications are rarely used to dissolve the stones. There is no sure way to prevent gallstones, but risk can be reduced with lifestyle modifications.
How can one prevent gallstones?
Ans: There is no sure way to prevent gallstones, but risk can be reduced with lifestyle modifications. Prompt treatment of urinary tract infections or other urinary tract conditions may help prevent bladder stones.
Ans: Most bladder stones are expelled or can be removed without permanent damage to the bladder. They may come back if the cause is not corrected. If the stones are left untreated, they may cause repeated urinary tract infections or permanent damage to the bladder or kidneys.