Severe pain in the right side of the abdomen could be a gallbladder stone

Cholelithiasis, gallstones, gallstones – whatever the name of this disease, it causes very severe pain in the right side of the abdomen and requires treatment. And, if left untreated, it can even lead to bowel obstruction.






Gallstones or gallstones can be of varying sizes, even the size of a golf ball.
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Changes in bile or gallbladder function – factors that cause stones – are related to several aspects, such as obesity, sudden weight loss, genetics, hormonal imbalance, use of certain medications , liver disease, pregnancy, diabetes, hypothyroidism, genetics and diet.

According to general and digestive surgeon João Couto Neto, the treatment of the disease essentially depends on the symptoms. “Asymptomatic gallstones discovered by chance during other tests generally do not require treatment. However, attention should be paid to gallstone-related symptoms and medical advice in relation to the specific clinical situation of each patient”, specifies the doctor.

For stones that cause symptoms, the best option is surgical removal of the gallbladder. This operation is usually performed laparoscopically (laparoscopic cholecystectomy). “The gallbladder is not necessary for life and cholecystectomy has no major digestive consequences.”

João Couto reports that of all patients with gallstones, 15-20% will have more serious complications. These may refer to obstruction of the gallbladder by larger stones, such as acute cholecystitis, or migration of small gallstones from the gallbladder into the bile ducts, causing choledocholithiasis, cholangitis, and pancreatitis acute. A risk associated with the presence of gallbladder stones is the development of gallbladder cancer.

Gallstone Symptoms


João Couto Neto, surgeon



João Couto Neto, surgeon
Photo: Marcos Quintana


Biliary pain is sometimes mistaken for stomach pain and can last from minutes to hours. Symptoms include severe pain on the right side or in the middle part of the abdomen, below the breastbone; on the back of the right side, between the shoulder blades or on the right shoulder; nausea and vomiting, exacerbated by ingestion of certain types of food.

The warning signs that advise to immediately go to the doctor are pains so intense that they do not allow the patient to stay still; appearance of yellow discoloration of the eyes or skin (jaundice); dark urine or pale stools; high fever and chills. “It is always essential, when symptoms appear, to make an appointment with a gallbladder specialist so that the problem does not worsen,” suggests doctor João Couto Neto.

Food is a preventive factor

It is known that food is an important aspect to avoid the problem or reduce the symptoms of those who already have it. In terms of prevention, it is essential not to skip meals, as prolonged fasting increases the risk of stones. People with gallstones should follow a low-fat diet and pay attention to their glycemic profile if they have diabetes. In the event of a gallbladder crisis, the ideal diet should be guided by the doctor.

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