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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How are gallstones diagnosed?

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    Dr Michael Swan


    Michael Swan is a Gastroenterologist specialising in endoscopy, pancreaticobiliary disease and gastrointestinal cancer screening. Michael trained in clinical endoscopy with leaders in the field both … View Profile

    Gallstones are identified usually on imaging - either ultrasound or CT (computed tomography). 
    The majority of gallstones are asymptomatic - they have no symptoms - and are diagnosed when imaging in performed for other reasons. 
    Gallstones develop in the gallbladder for a variety of reasons - often related to genetics, obesity, diet and hormonal factors. 
    Symptoms that can be attrbuted to gallstones include pain (in the right upper portion of the abdomen) that can be episodic or continuous, jaundice and fevers and sweating. 
    In the setting of these symptoms and/or abnormalities in the liver blood tests, the finding of gallstones is significant and would suggest that some form of treatment should be undertaken to treat the gallstones. This could include either an operation (cholecystectomy) or an endsocpic procedure called an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography). 

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