Gallbladder/ Gallstone Disease Specialist

Gabriel Akopian, MD -  - General and Colorectal Surgeon

Gabriel Akopian, MD

General and Colorectal Surgeon located in Pasadena, CA

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that occur in an organ called the gallbladder. These deposits can be small enough to go unnoticed, but sometimes they can cause painful blockages and require surgical removal. Luckily, the gallbladder is an unnecessary organ that can be removed in a cholecystectomy. Gabriel Akopian, MD, specializes in performing laparoscopic cholecystectomies in his Pasadena, California, office, a minimally invasive technique to remove the gallbladder. For more information, make an appointment with the online scheduling tool or call the office today.

Gallbladder/ Gallstone Disease Q & A

What are gallstones?

Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ in your abdomen on your right side, under your liver. The gallbladder stores a digestive fluid called bile, but sometimes this fluid can harden into deposits ranging in size from a grain of rice to a golf ball.

People who experience gallstone symptoms usually need a surgery called a cholecystectomy to remove them. Many people have gallstones that are too small to cause any symptoms, and therefore never need treatment.

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

Most gallstones are too small to cause any symptoms. However, sometimes they grow large enough to cause blockages, meaning you can experience:

  • A sudden and rapidly worsening pain in your upper right abdomen
  • A sudden pain just below the breastbone
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Nausea or vomiting

This pain can last from a few minutes to hours, and it can range in severity.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Pain so severe you can’t sit or lie comfortably
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • A high fever with chills

These could be signs of a serious gallstone complication.

Who is most at risk of gallstones?

Certain people are more likely to get gallstones, including:

  • Women
  • People over 40
  • Native Americans
  • Mexican-Americans
  • Overweight and obese people
  • Pregnant women
  • People with a high fat or high cholesterol diet
  • People with a family history of gallstones
  • People with diabetes
  • People taking estrogen, oral contraceptives or hormone therapy drugs
  • People with liver disease

If you meet one or more of these criteria, be especially aware of the symptoms of gallstones.

How do you treat gallstones?

If a gallstone is severe enough to cause symptoms, you’ll probably require surgery to remove the gallbladder entirely, called a cholecystectomy. Dr. Akopian specializes in the laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive procedure where a tiny camera and tiny incisions are used to remove the gallbladder entirely.

The gallbladder is an unnecessary organ, like the appendix or the tonsils, so once it’s gone and the blockage is cleared, your bile can flow normally again.

If you’re worried you may have gallstones or would like to have them removed, call Dr. Akopian’s office or make an appointment online today.