Calculus of gallbladder and fatty liver disease

29 April, 2024

Study shows patients with fatty liver are more likely to have gallstones, which correlates with disease severity and necessitates targeted treatment.

Around 30% of the population suffers from fatty liver disease. On the other hand, cholelithiasis (gallbladder stones) is also a common disease, affecting 10-20% of the world’s population.

Gallstones can cause severe pain under the right ribcage that radiates to the back and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever, and jaundice (yellowing of the conjunctiva). Sometimes the stones move outside the gallbladder and can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which is a very serious disease.

Given the high frequency of fatty liver and gallstones in the general population, a study has been published in the journal Health Science Reports that tried to verify if there is an association between both diseases, that is, if patients with liver fatty are at more risk of developing gallbladder stones.

It was found that patients with fatty liver have gallstones more frequently than the general population. Furthermore, it was seen that the presence of gallstones is positively associated with the severity of fatty liver disease.

Check if calculus are present

In summary, in a patient with fatty liver disease, the possible presence of stones in the gallbladder should be studied. This is important since there are various and effective treatments to avoid complications of gallstones such as lithotripsy (destruction of stones using extracorporeal ultrasound waves) or removal of the gallbladder by laparoscopy. Dr. Carreño’s team wants to emphasize that stones only need to be treated if they cause symptoms (in asymptomatic patients, removal of the gallbladder is not indicated).

Finally, we would like to mention that the presence of stones in the gallbladder is essentially detected by ultrasound, which is a mandatory routine test in patients with fatty liver and which we also perform at the Foundation.

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