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What are they?

Gallstones are hard lumps of crystals that develop within the gall bladder. The gall bladder is a small sac like organ located underneath the liver. Between meal times it collects and stores bile from the liver. Bile is a mixture of chemicals that help the digestion of food. At meal times the gall bladder squeezes the bile out and into the intestines.

Stones develop from the chemicals in bile. They are usually made of cholesterol, but can also be from pigments produced by the liver and may contain calcium salts.

Many factors increase the risk of developing gallstones:

  • Increasing age
  • Female sex
  • High fat and low fibre diet
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Long term fasting
  • Gall bladder stasis
  • Diabetes
  • Cystic fibrosis.

Last Review Date: March 6, 2017