Gallstones (cholelithiasis): formation

Gallstones (cholelithiasis): formation

Gallstones often lie undetected in the gallbladder for long, where they have room. Sometimes, they embark on a journey – and clog the bile ducts. This builds up the bile, which leads to severe cramping pain. This is usually the situation in which the gallstones are first discovered.

Stones – or “concretions” in technical terms – can form in various places in the body, primarily due to the crystallization and clumping of fats, salts or dyes. They occur most frequently in the gallbladder, kidneys, and urinary tract and, rarely, in the salivary glands.

formation of gallstones

The gallbladder nestles tightly against the liver to quickly absorb and store the bile produced there. This so-called bile helps the intestine to digest high-fat food. It contains various dissolved components, such as

  • bile acids
  • Phospholipids
  • cholesterol
  • Dyes from blood breakdown
  • Hormone

Suppose too many of the individual substances are present or their composition changes. In that case, they fall out of the solution and settle on the walls of the gallbladder ( cholecystolithiasis ) or bile ducts ( choledocholithiasis ). They can occur singly or in groups, be small or up to the size of a plum and calcify.

 

cholesterol stones and pigment stones

With gallstones, a distinction is made between cholesterol and pigment stones and a mixed type:

  • Cholesterol stones are caused by high levels of cholesterol in the bile and a lack of bile salts. Cholesterol stones accumulate when you are overweight, have high cholesterol levels in your blood, take the pill or suffer from Crohn’s disease.
  • Pigment stones consist mainly of the bile pigment bilirubin and are primarily caused by increased blood breakdown, artificial heart valvesmalaria, chronic infections of the bile ducts and liver diseases.

A person’s gallstones are always of the same type (mostly cholesterol stones) and are based on the individual composition of the bile. The extent to which gallstone disease also has a psychological component is controversial. In alternative medicine, in particular, gallstone disease is often attributed to mental stress and assigned to a particular personality type that is conflict-averse, rarely lets things out and tends to direct aggression against itself.

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