Just like almost every other disease, gallstones can lead to some serious consequences if they are not treated. Although these cases are very rare, they are still possible. Conditions which can be provoked by neglected gallstones are pancreatitis, jaundice or some bile duct or gallbladder infection. The condition called jaundice, causes eye whites and skin discoloration. The condition called cholecystitis is a gallbladder inflammation, while gallstone ileus is the name for obstruction of the intestines.
Other problems include acute cholecystitis, which is the inflammation of the gallbladder, which happens suddenly, and bile duct inflammation problems named cholangitis. This sudden inflammation of the gallbladder starts with a serious pain in the upper abdomen. This pain can persist even after twelve hours. Fever can also be experienced when this condition occurs, which is commonly induced by enormous meal or food with high level of fat. The treatment of this condition has to be performed in the hospital and it consists of antibiotics for the infection, which is the usual culprit for the condition, and the extraction of all content from the stomach. This should remove the infection of the gallbladder. This condition is similar to biliary colic, except for the fact that there is no inflammation in acute cholecystitis. Since the fear of reoccurrence of the condition exists, the gallbladder is usually removed once the inflammation is eliminated.
Acute biliary pancreatitis is a condition connected with patients with many small gallbladder stones. The pancreas can be obstructed by these stones, while going through the bile duct. The endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) and sphincterotomy are used to treat this condition. When there is a reduced flow in the bile duct, obstructive jaundice occurs. The bile cannot flow and patients experience this along with skin yellowing. Acute cholangitis is caused by bacteria. This condition requires immediate medical treatment, since it can lead to death. Antibiotics are used to unclog the duct. The flow in the bile duct can be blocked thus directing the blood to return to the bloodstream. This is called cholestasis. The obstruction can be caused by a tumor, so the doctor has to perform an ultrasound to see if the gallstones are responsible, and if so, to remove them surgically. Chronic cholecystitis occurs when the gallbladder is suffering from constant attacks. Pain, retching and nausea are common in this condition, which usually affects women. The reduced flow of the bile duct can happen because of the gallbladder removal surgery. The treatment of this condition requires the use of a stent, which expands the narrowed part of the duct. Even gallbladder cancer can occur, but these cases are very rare. The blockage of the bile duct can be caused by tumors, as we have already stated. The most common tumors involved are gallbladder and pancreatic cancer.