BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gallstone. Coloured X-ray of a gallstone (lower left). The bones on the right are the spinal vertebrae. Gallstones are hard deposits of cholesterol or bile that form in the gall bladder, a small bile-secreting chamber in the liver. They develop when an upset occurs in the chemical composition of bile, and are most common in women, the elderly and the obese. Gallstones are very common but only one in five affected people develop symptoms, such as acute pain if a stone becomes stuck in the gall bladder's outlet duct. Complications include inflammation and infection. Treatments include surgical removal of the gall bladder and shock-wave lithotripsy.
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