When to Go to the Hospital for a Gallbladder Attack? 6 Basic Symptoms

It is very important to decide the time when to go to the hospital for a gallbladder attack. Gallstones, solidified particles of digestive fluid, get lodged in the tube that joins the gallbladder and the pancreas, causing gallbladder attacks.

Anatomy of Gall Bladder

The gallbladder is a tiny pouch located beneath the liver. Bile produced by the liver is stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver. After meals, the gallbladder is empty and flat, like a deflated balloon. Before a meal, the gallbladder may be full of bile and the size of a little pear.

In response to signals, the gallbladder squeezes stored bile into the small intestine via a series of tubes known as ducts. Although the gallbladder isn’t essential, bile promotes fat digestion. The removal of the gallbladder normally causes no visible problems with health or digestion in otherwise healthy people, while there is a small risk of diarrhea and fat malabsorption.

Gall bladder
Fig 1: Gall bladder

What is a Gall Bladder Attack?

When crystallized bile or cholesterol (which helps make bile) gets stuck in the cystic duct, it causes a gallbladder attack. As part of your digestive system, this tube links to another duct from the pancreas. The two ducts join the small intestine, where the fluids they convey aid in fat digestion.

The cholecyst is the anatomical word for the gallbladder. Acute cholelithiasis occurs when the gallbladder duct is blocked by a stone or stones, and acute cholecystitis occurs when the duct becomes inflamed.

Gallstones can be as little as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball in size. A blockage can produce severe discomfort known as biliary colic, which can come and go but usually persists.

The signs and symptoms of a gallbladder attack can be confused with those of other major health problems. It’s critical to see a doctor so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Therefore it is very crucial to decide when to go to a hospital after a gall bladder attack?

When to go to the hospital for a gallbladder attack
Fig2: How stones are formed in gall bladder

Symptoms of Gall Bladder Attack

When crystallized bile or cholesterol (which helps create bile) becomes blocked in the cystic duct, it causes a gallbladder attack. As part of your digestive system, this tube links to another duct from the pancreas.

Gallstones obstruct the bile duct, putting pressure on the gallbladder. This can cause inflammation, pain, and other symptoms that can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.

  • The strong ache in the upper right side or middle of the abdomen that may spread to the shoulder
  • bloating
  • chest discomfort
  • nausea
  • vomiting\s fever
  • The pain can be so intense that it’s difficult to breathe, and you’ll find yourself gasping for air and having a heart attack.

If you think you’re experiencing a gallbladder attack, go to the hospital right once or phone 911. Serious difficulties can ensue if the ducts are closed for more than a few hours. Some of these consequences are potentially fatal.

When to go to the Hospital for a Gallbladder Attack?

The following are signs that you should go to the hospital:

  • intense stomach pain lasting more than 2 hours, centered in the upper right abdomen
  • Swelling, distention, or bloating in the abdomen
  • dark, urine with a tea color
  • Clay-colored feces
  • Fever of more than 101°F (38°C)
  • Nausea accompanied by or without vomiting

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Causes /Risk Factors of Gall Bladder Attack

While medical specialists do not fully understand the causes of gallstones, several risk factors do play a role in their development. These are some of them:

  • Rapid weight loss is possible.
  • Gender: Female
  • Familial history
  • Obesity 
  • Age more than 40
  • Mexican or Native American ancestry
When to go to the hospital for a gallbladder attack
Fig3: Causes of gall bladder pain

Diagnosis of Gall Bladder Attack

  • USG Of abdomen:

Abdominal ultrasonography is a noninvasive test in which high-frequency sound waves are bounced off structures in the abdomen by a probe placed on the skin. Ultrasound is a useful tool for detecting gallstones and inspecting the gallbladder wall.

  • HIDA scan (cholescintigraphy)

 A radioactive dye is administered intravenously and secreted into the bile in this nuclear medicine exam. If the scan reveals that bile does not make it from the liver to the gallbladder, cholecystitis is likely.

  • endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP):

A clinician can view through a flexible tube introduced into the mouth, stomach, and small intestine and inject dye into the bile system ducts during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). During an ERCP, tiny surgical tools can be utilized to treat some gallstone disorders

  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)

Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) Further examinations and therapies are guided by MRCP images.

  • Endoscopic ultrasound 

 Choledocholithiasis and gallstone pancreatitis can be detected with endoscopic ultrasonography. In this, a tiny pipe-like thing that is flexible enough is inserted through the mouth to the intestines.

  • Abdominal X-ray

 X-rays can be used to look for various abnormalities in the abdomen, but they can’t always diagnose gallbladder illness. X-rays, on the other hand, may be able to detect gallstones.

Closure view to gall bladder stone
Fig 4: Closure view to gall bladder stone

Treatment of Gall Bladder Attack

Surgical removal of the gallbladder is the most common treatment for a gallbladder attack. Cholecystectomy is the medical word for this procedure. Antibiotics may be administered by IV in addition to surgery.

Surgical techniques include the following:

  • The most common operation for gallstones is laparoscopic cholecystectomy. A minimally invasive incision is used. It can be done as an outpatient procedure, with a recovery time of around a week.
  • If your gallbladder is inflamed or there is scar tissue in the area, your surgeon may have to make a wider incision to remove it. This is called Open cholecystectomy. You may spend approximately a week in the hospital, and recovery takes about a month.

Your gallbladder is not required for proper digestion. You may notice changes in your bowel patterns after gallbladder removal surgery, such as fewer stool movements. This is usually only a matter of time.

If your gallstones are comprised of cholesterol rather than bile, your doctor may be able to treat them without surgery by using drugs or a shock wave treatment to break them apart.

Gallstones are more likely to reappear if the gallbladder is not removed. If you develop complications as a result of a gallbladder attack, your doctor will treat you according to the severity of the problem.


Gallbladder attacks can result in the following complications:

  • Jaundice
  • Acute cholangitis is a bile duct infection that can range from mild to fatal.
  • Acute pancreatitis is seen with inflammation of the pancreas with severe or dull pain near the top of the abdomen.
  • Peritonitis is an inflammation of the abdominal lining caused by a gallbladder injury. It has the potential to be fatal.
  • Ileum gallstones (rare): A gallstone can clog the bowel and must be treated right away to avoid rupture.
  • Gallbladder cancer is rare cancer that affects the gallbladder. This cancer is found to be more common in people who previously have gallstones.

What is the duration of a gallbladder attack?

An episode of the gallbladder might last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours.

If you have a gallbladder attack, how should you lay?

Sleeping on your left side is recommended if you have gallbladder pain. Your gallbladder can contract and expand freely if you sleep or rest on your left side until the blockage in your bile duct is gone. This, according to the hypothesis, can aid in the relief of pain.

What happens if a gallbladder attack is ignored?

Continued infection and inflammation caused by untreated gallbladder illness can lead to a stiff gallbladder with fibrous scar tissue over time. Gallbladder injury makes it impossible for the gallbladder to operate normally, resulting in digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, gas, and persistent diarrhea.

Do gallstones disappear on their own?

Gallstones may dissolve on their own, although they seldom do, and treatment may be necessary. Gallstones don’t usually create symptoms, and in some cases, dietary adjustments may be enough to keep issues at bay. Without a gallbladder, people can live regular lives.

What is the best way to cleanse my gallbladder at home?

A gallbladder cleanses usually entails several hours of eating or drinking a mixture of olive oil, herbs, and some form of fruit juice. Gallbladder cleansing, according to proponents, helps break up gallstones and stimulates the gallbladder to release them into the stool.

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