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Dr. John Hsiang, Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist
Gallstones are small, hardened deposits that form in the gallbladder or bile ducts.
The gallbladder is a small organ located in the upper right side of the abdomen, just below the liver. Its main function is to store and concentrate bile, which is produced by the liver and helps with the digestion of fats.
Gallstones can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. They are comprised of cholesterol, bile salts, and calcium deposits.
While many people have gallstones without experiencing any symptoms or complications, they can cause problems if they block the flow of bile from the gallbladder.
Many people with gallstones do not experience any symptoms and may not even know they have them. However, when a gallstone blocks the bile duct, it can cause severe pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, known as biliary colic.
Other symptoms of gallstones may include:
A Gastroscopy, also known as an Upper GI Endoscopy, is a procedure to examine the oesophagus (gullet), stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine).
It is done by having a gastroscope safely inserted through the mouth and maneuvered by your Doctor.
A gastroscope is a flexible tube with a camera attached to it. This gives your Doctor an internal view of your upper digestive system to detect abnormalities such as polyps, ulcers, inflammation, or cancerous growths along the mucosal lining.
If your Doctor discovers these issues during an examination, they can remove any polyps or tissues to be sampled for further investigation.
There are various factors that can contribute to the formation of gallstones. These include:
If you experience severe abdominal pain, especially in the upper right side of your abdomen, accompanied by fever and chills, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms may indicate a blockage in the bile ducts or an infection in the gallbladder.
Additionally, if you have a family history of gallstones or are experiencing recurring symptoms such as nausea and bloating, it is essential to consult with a doctor. They may perform tests such as an ultrasound or blood work to diagnose the presence of gallstones.
Consulting a Gastroenterologist for your symptoms helps in obtaining an accurate diagnosis, giving you peace of mind. It also aids in detecting and ruling out more serious diseases like ulcers and cancer.
At Richmond Gastro, our team ensures a smooth and comfortable consultation and diagnosis, making the process less daunting than you may think.
Usually, a Gastroscopy is done while you are asleep due to the sedatives that will be administered to you. An anesthetic will also be sprayed into your throat to numb your swallowing sensation.
You will be placed on your side and given to wear a mouth guard to prevent yourself from biting on the scope. With the necessary preparations in place, your Doctor will proceed with the gastroscopy examination.
The whole procedure should take about 10 to 15 minutes and you should be discharged within the same day. You will be advised not to drive or operate machinery for the day due to the drowsiness you may feel from the sedatives.
If you have been diagnosed with gallstones, the treatment options will depend on the severity of your symptoms and any underlying conditions. In most cases, surgical removal of the gallbladder is recommended to prevent future complications.
Other treatment options may include medications to dissolve or break down stones or shock wave therapy to break them up into smaller pieces that can pass through the bile ducts.
While there is no surefire way to prevent gallstones, there are some lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk or alleviate symptoms if you already have them.
MBChB (NZ), FRACP (Australasia), MD (Doctorate), FRCP (Edinburgh), FAMS (Gastro)
Dr. John Hsiang is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist with more than 20 years of clinical experience in public and private practice.
Dr. John’s special clinical interests are in gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach conditions, fatty liver, and gastrointestinal cancer screening
Dr. John has spent more than five years in the Singhealth cluster serving in the Gastroenterology Department at Changi General Hospital and Sengkang General Hospital.
Indigestion, gastroesophageal reflux disease, helicobacter pylori infection, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, hepatitis B, fatty liver disease, management of abnormal liver tests.
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Here at Richmond Gastroenterology Centre, we strive to ensure the most efficient claims process for our patients. To that end, our team works diligently with their insurers to obtain Letters of Guarantee and pre-authorization certificates prior to any procedures.
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Dr. John Hsiang is an Accredited Specialist Across All Private Hospitals in Singapore.