You’ve just eaten your favorite meal: tacos with ground beef, lots of cheese, sour cream, onion, and salsa, along with a salad with your favorite, delicious dressing. Sounds innocent enough, right? Wait….maybe not. You notice a sharp pain in your lower back and you remember that this has happened on several occasions. You’re smart, so you realize that it’s time to call the doctor.
So, a few days later, you’re examined and then sent to a specialist. An ultrasound is performed and a conclusion has been made: you have gallstones. What does this mean? Where do you go from here? Your answer is partially given to you when the nurse hands you a sheet of paper containing your new extremely low-fat diet. And you’re thinking, “Seriously!?”
Yes, seriously. There are two routes you can go to when you have gallstones. The first is simply living with them and watching what you eat. Sure, the diet does rule out things you love, such as chocolate, red meat, French fries, ice cream, and pizza, but look at it this way: you are being forced to change your eating habits for the better. Sure, you may not have had a terrible diet before you encountered this new problem, but maybe this experience can turn you into the health freak you’ve always secretly dreamed of being.
So, after some major adjustments, you’re trying your best to heed this revolutionary new diet and you’re feeling significantly better. So, a couple of years go by and this new diet has definitely helped you lose some weight, but your discomfort has gotten greater. What now?
Well, now may be the time to consider gallbladder removal. If your symptoms include: intense pain below your right ribs, shoulder blade, and back after eating (aka, a gallbladder attack), stomach cramping, and frequent, unpleasant trips to the bathroom, then you may have a significant problem. Getting an updated ultrasound would be a good idea to see if the stones have grown larger.
The larger they become, the more inflamed the gallbladder can become, making it almost unable to function. Plus, you’re running the risk of one of those stones being released into your intestines, which could cause all kinds of disasters. If you’re to the point where you’re doubled over in pain and even have problems tolerating things on your very limited low-fat diet list, then you may be having some serious issues. One test that can be performed to measure the functioning of your gallbladder is a HIDA scan.
During this test, a small amount of radioactive dye is injected into your bloodstream and then travels to your liver and gallbladder. A sophisticated camera then takes images of the activity. If your gallbladder appears to be functioning below normal or barely at all, your surgeon may want to perform surgery as soon as possible.