Gallstones During Pregnancy Symptoms: Its Causes And Treatment

The prevalence of gallbladder stone varies widely in different parts of the world. However, the percentage of women suffering from gallstone disease is more as compared to men. There are many specific risk factors that have been identified for gallstone formation. Old age, obesity, weight loss and weight gain etc.

Often pregnancy is one of the important risk factor included in gallstone formation. About 5 to 10 percentage women may experience gallstone disease during pregnancy. Increase of estrogen level in women is the probable cause of more cases in them. Especially the level of estrogen becomes high during pregnancy.

Obese pregnant women are at a greater risk.

Causes Of Gallstones In Pregnancy

Bile is made by the liver and is a fluid made up of water, bilirubin, bile salts, cholesterol, and fats. The gallbladder, which stores the bile, is a pear shaped sac lying below the liver. When the body requires bile for digestion it is released from the gallbladder into the small intestine. When there is too much of cholesterol and too less of bile salts in the bile, it gets concentrated and stone are formed.

During pregnancy the level of cholesterol may rise due to rise in the estrogen level.

So when the bile gets supersaturated with cholesterol during pregnancy it results into cholesterol gallstone. Pigment gallstones that are formed due to super saturation of bilirubin, the bile pigment may also form but considerably less than cholesterol gallstone.

Gallstones Symptoms During Pregnancy

The cardinal symptom of gallstone is biliary colic. It is a sharp pain appearing suddenly in the right upper or mid portion of the abdomen.

Sometime the gallstone may not cause any symptom at all during pregnancy. But it is important to bring to the attention of your doctor if you have the following symptoms during pregnancy:

  • Sudden excruciating pain the mid and upper portion of the abdomen.
  • Pain traveling to the back and below the shoulder blade.
  • Pain increases especially after eating a fatty meal.
  • Pain that lasts for more than 4 hours in the abdomen.
  • Color of the stool changes to clay color.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever with chills

To know what causes such type of pain and discomfort your doctor may advise some test to diagnose the disease. As X-ray is not safe during pregnancy, the safest test for detection of gallstone during pregnancy is abdominal ultra-sonogram.

Treatment For Gallstones While Pregnant

  • Asymptomatic gallstones are best left alone during pregnancy. If symptoms like gallstone colic and fever with vomiting occur frequently, the patient may be advised for surgical option. She may also need surgery when the conventional medicinal approach is not effective.
  • During the first trimester: The surgery may be delayed during the first trimester and the symptoms treated conventionally because the risk of miscarriage is high.
  • During the second trimester surgery for gallstone removal is safe.
  • During the third trimester, surgery is difficult due to enlargement of the uterus, it is delayed. The chances of pre term labor also increase in third trimester. Conventional medicines are the option to delay it till postpartum period.

Diet For Gallstones In Pregnancy

Follow a diet rich in fiber content and low in fat. Eat foods that are high in fiber content. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Whole grains, wheat, rice, beans etc are also useful when the woman is suffering from gallstone during pregnancy.

You should not eat fried and fatty food if you are pregnant and suffering from gallstone colic. However, many physicians recommend food from unsaturated fats such as fish and nuts. However, in pregnancy a woman is advised to limit on the amount of eating fish due to its mercury level.