How do gallstones (cholelithiasis) develop?

Updated: Apr 01, 2019
  • Author: Douglas M Heuman, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Gallstones develop insidiously, and they may remain asymptomatic for decades. Migration of a gallstone into the opening of the cystic duct may block the outflow of bile during gallbladder contraction. The resulting increase in gallbladder wall tension produces a characteristic type of pain (biliary colic). Cystic duct obstruction, if it persists for more than a few hours, may lead to acute gallbladder inflammation (acute cholecystitis).


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