A gallbladder attack occurs when gallstones block the bile duct. This prevents bile from flowing out of the duct and causes the gallbladder to spasm. When this happens, the patient experiences severe pain that may feel like a heart attack. Gallbladder attacks occur in roughly one-third of patients who have gallstones. These attacks are considered medical emergencies. Patients should go to the emergency room right away if they experience symptoms of a gallbladder attack. An abdominal ultrasound may be performed to identify gallstones quickly. Patients may also need to have a CT scan, a HIDA scan, or an abdominal x-ray. Blood tests help check the patient's liver function.
Patients will receive pain and nausea medication at the hospital. This helps keep them comfortable while doctors conduct the mentioned tests. Ursodeoxycholic acid (ursodiol) may be prescribed to dissolve small gallstones. Ultimately, the major goal is to achieve gallbladder pain relief. Gallbladder attack treatment at a hospital usually manages this. Of course, doctors may recommend gallbladder removal as a treatment for repeated gallbladder attacks. However, patients need to understand the symptoms of these attacks first.
Intense And Persistent Abdominal Pain
Usually, intense and persistent abdominal pain is the first symptom of a gallbladder attack. The pain starts in the upper right abdomen, and can be felt high up in the center of the abdomen. As the gallbladder attack progresses, the pain may move to the area between the shoulder blades or the right shoulder. Most patients describe the pain of a gallbladder attack as a sharp, stabbing pain. The pain begins suddenly, and it can last for several hours. The patient may have trouble sitting still because of the severity of the pain. Abdominal tenderness could be present as well.
In general, the pain associated with gallbladder attacks does not change or get worse with movement. If a gallbladder attack is confirmed, patients will be given strong pain medication at the hospital to ease their symptoms. They may need to continue to take pain relievers to manage gallstone pain after returning home.