January 27, 2009 in Features

Gallstones may not be source of gallbladder pain

Peter H. Gott, M.D.
 

Dear Dr. Gott: I read your article about the elderly woman who had possible gallstones. I misplaced it and just recently found it again, so I decided it was time to write to you about my experience.

The symptoms described in the article were very similar to what I experienced shortly after the birth of my daughter. I delivered via C-section and returned home after four days in the hospital. I didn’t feel very good but attributed it to my first experience with a C-section and all that goes with it; however, the pain worsened. I called the hospital, and the nurses there assured me it was just constipation caused by the surgery and that I should take a laxative to get things moving. After doing that, I still felt awful – even worse than before – with sharp pains under my right ribs that made me double over in pain. My husband decided I needed to go to the hospital emergency room.

I spent the next three days in the hospital undergoing several blood tests, X-rays and more. I was also seen by a gastroenterologist and my OB/Gyn. They thought I had a blood clot in my lung, but, when tests showed that wasn’t the case, they decided I had gallstones. Testing revealed I didn’t have gallstones, so I was then told I needed a nuclear test to check the function of my gallbladder. It showed I still didn’t have gallstones, but the gallbladder was barely functioning. I was scheduled for removal surgery. Shortly afterward, the surgeon came to check on me and told me that I had one of the worst-looking gallbladders he had ever seen.

Thanks to my experience when my mother-in-law had a similar experience a few years later, we were able to figure out the problem sooner. She didn’t have to suffer the way I did. I hope you choose to print my letter because I know it will help others. I am thankful I had caring, knowledgeable physicians who didn’t give up just because the answer wasn’t staring them in the face.

Dear Reader: You are certainly correct that not all gallbladder pain is caused by gallstones. Your physicians and hospital staff were correct to continue testing you rather than simply give up. You also were able to help another person when she developed similar symptoms.

I have printed your letter in the hopes that it will help others who may be suffering from similar experiences. Gallbladder removal often does not cause ill effects, although some people may experience mild aching or gas pains similar to a gallbladder attack even after surgery. Fortunately, most improve after a few weeks.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Gallbladder Disease.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dr. Gott is a retired physician.


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