Common Causes Of Biliary Colic: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Biliary colic is a condition when a person experiences intermittent or steady pain usually under the right side of the rib cage. Patients suffering from biliary colic stand a great chance of developing more complications such cholecystitis.

Gallstones are the most common reason for biliary colic and may affect aged people mostly females, people who have a family history of this disease, obese people, those who take too much of oral contraceptives, patients suffering from diabetes mellitus, people who undertake prolonged fasting and so on.

Main Causes Of Biliary Colic

Biliary pain is more often than not caused when the cystic duct or the common bile duct is obstructed by a gallstone.

People may even have gallstones without any identifiable disease, but it has been found that people suffering from biliary colic tend to have gallstones.

If a gallstone blocks a bile duct, bile flow into the intestine stops. In order to push the bile, the muscle cells in the bile duct contract vigorously leading to pain.

Biliary pain is also associated with functional disorders of the biliary tract, such as a calculous biliary pain or pain without stones, and can even afflict after the removal of the gallbladder. Besides stones, the bile duct may also get affected due to constriction of the duct or a tumor that blocks the flow of bile flow thereby causing biliary colic.

Women undergoing menopause are also more prone to this disease.

What Are The Symptoms Of Biliary Colic?

The most common symptom of biliary colic is pain which grows from mild to severe. The pain is preceded by a feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen.  Patient experiences the pain in the center of the abdomen or in the upper right part of the abdomen near the liver or gallbladder. When the pain degenerates it tends to spreads back toward the right shoulder blade.

The feeling of pain is accompanied with nausea and vomiting. The symptoms aggravate after fatty meals.

This is because the digestive system’s need for bile increases after spicy meals causing vigorous contraction of the bile ducts. The symptoms get more pronounced after a fasting person suddenly breaks a fast with a heavy meal.

Prevention And Treatment Of Biliary Colic

Biliary colic can be prevented by controlling factors that lead to gallstones. Though some factors such as increasing age, pregnancy and heredity is beyond our control, other contributing factors, such as obesity and a high-fat diet can be easily checked by altering our lifestyle.

If the affliction is severe or recurrent then the disease can only be treated by surgical removal of stones. The process involves making small incisions in the abdomen and inserting laparoscope to remove the blockage. It is safe and effective, with 90% of cases reporting no post-surgery complications.

For those not keen on surgery can opt for medication that dissolves gallstones. This treatment can be initiated during the formative stage, when the stones are small, and usually takes some. A yet another way is shock-wave lithotripsy which can break up the stones.

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