Gallstone disease


Under Gallstones one understands a deposition of solid substances which, due to various causes, emerge from the bile, flocculate and lead to pain as well as obstruction of the bile ducts and obstruction of the drainage of the bile.



Forms and causes

One differentiates the gallstones on the one hand by the stone type and on the other hand by the place of origin.

Gallstones, the main component of which is cholesterol (Cholesterol stones) are the most common and make up around 70-80% of all gallstones. Some of the causes of can be inherited. It was found that often many members of a family suffer from gallstones. There were also certain Indian tribes in which gallstones occurred particularly frequently or never. Gene mutations can also trigger chronic gallstone disease. Age, body weight and blood cholesterol level are both risk factors and causes of cholesterol stones. The second group of stones (20%) is known as Bilirubin, or pigment stones. The causes can be a chronic dissolution of blood components (hemolysis) or in a Cirrhosis of the liver lie. Other causes of bilirubin stones are suspected, but the details are unknown. Many people are carriers of gallstones and can preferentially develop gallstone disease (biliary colic). Most of the time, however, they do not cause any complaints and thus remain unnoticed for years Gallbladder (Gallbladder stone), the main place of formation. A small part of the gallstones get out of the gallbladder and migrate into the adjacent bile ducts (bile duct stone). Even the smallest stones can cause blockages and severe pain. Over time, small stones left in the gallbladder can increase in volume. Most of the time they trigger the first symptoms. 75% of gallstones do not cause any discomfort (silent gallstones). Only 25% lead to symptomatic gallstone disease. 10-15% of patients with gallbladder stones also already have stones in the adjoining bile duct (ductus common bile duct).


Gallstone disease (biliary colic) affects women more often than men. The ratio is around 2: 1. It is estimated that 15% of all women and 7.5% of all men are carriers of gallstones.

Is a concomitant disease Crohn's disease or one Cirrhosis of the liver before, the frequency of gallstone disease increases (25% -30% of all sufferers).

If you are pregnant or if you are also taking estrogen preparations, the ratio of women to men increases to 3: 1.
There is a rule of thumb that states which patients are most at risk for gallstones (6 F rule):

  • female = female,
  • fair = fair-skinned,
  • fat = overweight,
  • forty = over 40 years old,
  • fertile = fertile,
  • family = already brought children into the world.


After the gallbladder has been removed, most patients have a good chance of never having gallstone problems (biliary colic) again. In some cases, however, it can still happen that the stones form in the bile duct and cause pain there. Mostly affected are patients who suffer from hereditary gallstones or who have the above Do not (cannot) switch off risk factors. In general, the prognosis after surgery is very good. Non-surgical gallstone treatments have a worse prognosis. As mentioned above, these often only have a 70% success rate.


Many risk factors, such as age or gender, can of course not be influenced. Change your eating habits (no high-cholesterol, low-fiber diet) and reduce your body weight. Drinking a glass of milk at night is said to cause the gallbladder to empty, reducing the risk of gallstones forming.


Gallstone disease (biliary colic) is a very common disease. It is estimated that 15% of all women and 7.5% of all men are carriers of gallstones. However, 75% do not cause any complaints. not discovered and do not need to be treated. Symptomatic stones are usually removed with the gallbladder by laparoscopic surgery. Gallstones are usually caused by age, the female gender, overweight, lack of exercise, and diets high in cholesterol and low in fiber. If the stones are in the gallbladder, they usually cause them after eating high-fat food or when lying down at night Upper abdominal pain. If the stones wander through the bile ducts and get stuck or rub against the walls of the duct, they can cause undulating, severe pain (colic). Patients with colic are usually bathed in sweat, walk restlessly and often cannot locate the location of the pain.

Most patients are permanently symptom-free after the surgical gall bladder and stone removal. In some exceptional cases, however, stones can continue to form in the bile duct and thus also trigger colic (gallstone disease).

Further information

Further information on the subject can be found on the following pages:

  • Gallstones
  • Gallbladder pain
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder
  • Jaundice
  • hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis of the liver