General Surgery Blogs

Dr. Steven Williams in Boise, Idaho

07Nov

What Causes Gallstones?

Dr. Steve Williams | Gallbladder Surgery | | View Counts (979) |Return|

This is not a new question! People have suffered and wondered about the causes of gallstones for more than a thousand years. Egyptian mummies have been found with gallstones. 10-20% of people will develop gallstones at some point in their lives. Gallstones are either cholesterol gallstones or pigmented gallstones. The pigmented stones are created by crystallization of bilirubin, which is a substance in our bile. Cholesterol stones develop when there is abnormal metabolism of cholesterol for some reason and the cholesterol is not soluble within the bile, which also results in crystal of cholesterol.

In either case, a small nucleus of the crystal develops and then aggregates into a larger ‘stone’. Imagine a grain of sand which is like a tiny snowball and the more it rolls around it gathers more crystals and becomes larger and larger. The older you get, the more chance you have of developing them. But why? Many times this can only be chalked up to ‘bad luck’. But, there are some factors which predispose people to develop gallstones. One is heredity. Those of American Indian or Mexican heritage have increased risk. If your mother, father, or grandparent had gallstones you are at increased risk as well.

Being female increases your risk, but this is primarily due to either being pregnant or taking birth control pills. Why is it women develop gallstones more than men? Both pregnancy and oral contraceptives change the relationship in the levels of estrogen and progesterone. Both of these hormones change the relationship of cholesterol metabolism leading to crystal and then stone formation. Not everyone with high cholesterol develops gallstones and many of those who actually have cholesterol stones do not have high levels of cholesterol found in the blood. Again, it is more of a function of whether or not the cholesterol within the bile is soluble, or forms crystals.

Click here to find more information on Gallstones

About the Author

Related

Can My Child Have a Hernia?

Can My Child Have a Hernia?

Children can have inguinal hernias, which develop at the bottom of the abdominal wall where the abdo...

Read More >
The Best Diet for GERD Issues

The Best Diet for GERD Issues

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition that arises when stomach acid backflows into t...

Read More >
Do I Have to Change the Way I Eat After Gallbladder Surgery?

Do I Have to Change the Way I Eat After Gallbladder Surgery?

Most people who have their gallbladders removed do not have to alter their diet at all. Perhaps this...

Read More >
5 Facts You Should Know About Sports Hernia

5 Facts You Should Know About Sports Hernia

A sports hernia is a soft tissue injury that occurs in the groin area. Athletes may incur this injur...

Read More >
Lifestyle Changes for GERD Treatment

Lifestyle Changes for GERD Treatment

​​​​​​​Making lifestyle changes can increase the quality of living daily life with GERD.  Her...

Read More >
Don't Ignore Your Gallbladder

Don't Ignore Your Gallbladder

Emergency surgery is risky business. Once health issues reach a point of urgency, they often involve...

Read More >

Subscribe

Name

Contact Dr. Steven Williams

Boise's Best General Surgeon

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *

Call or Contact Us Now
Practicing General Surgery in the Boise area since 2002