DAVID M. MARTIN, MD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID M. MARTIN, MD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gallstone treatment. Endoscope view of a papillo- tomy (sphincterotomy) operation on a 78 year-old male patient to unblock the common bile duct, which is blocked by gallstones. Two gallstones are seen, one just removed (yellow, lower right) and one still within the duct at upper centre. Gallstones are hard lumps formed by the gall bladder as it stores and concentrates bile. These can get stuck in the duct, causing severe pain, vomiting and jaundice (bile pigments in the blood). A papillotome (white) uses an electric current to cut (electrocauterise) the muscle which closes the ampulla of Vater, allowing gallstones to be passed.
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