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Gallstone Diagnosis | How are Gallstones Diagnosed

In the diagnosis of gallstones a doctor would usually perform a physical examination of the patient and check and see if there is a jaundice of the skin or the white portion of the eyes. If there is any indication of a possible occurence of gallstones, further tests such as blood tests are carried out to determine the white blood cell count or if there are abnormal levels of bladder or pancreatic enzymes. It’s important to understand; how are gallstones diagnosed?

The following tests may also be carried out in the diagnosis of gallstones:

CT Scan (or) Computerised Tomography scan:


In this procedure, a scan of the internal organs is taken and through a series of computer generated x-rays a detailed picture of the gallbladder as well as other organs can be clearly seen.

Ultrasound Test:

Unlike an X – Ray, in an ultrasound test sound waves are used to produce an image of the gallbladder as well as other organs in the body. This particular test is quite effective in detecting gallstones in the gallbladder as well as locating gallstones in the bile duct.

HIDA Scan:


In this scan the presence of gallstones are detected by sending a small quantity of radioactive tracer material is sent through the veins of the patient. A scan is then done to check and see if the radioactive substance has reached the gallbladder.If it hasn’t reached the gallbladder, then it is quite likely that a gallstone is blocking the path  (Cystic Duct and restricting the movement of the radioactive substance.

ERCP Test:

This particular test is done to find out where the gallstones are present and how to remove them. In this procedure an endoscope is sent down the patient’s throat into the stomach and upto the upper region of the small intestine. Air is then pumped in to expand the intestinal tract thus enabling a much clearer view of the bile and pancreatic ducts. If a gallstone is found to be caught in the ducts a special instrument may be inserted through the endoscope to remove the gallstone.

Endoscopic Ultrasound:


An endoscopic ultrasound is usually done when the stones are located in the common bile duct. In an endoscopic ultrasound a transducer is kept at the tip of the endoscope which is then inserted into the throat and through the stomach  Due to the close proximity to the bile duct, an endoscopic ultrasound would result in much better images in comparison to a normal ultrasound.

Next read about gallbladder complications

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