DAVID M. MARTIN, MD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID M. MARTIN, MD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gallstone treatment. Endoscope view of a papillo- tomy (sphincterotomy) operation to unblock the common bile duct. The 22 year-old female patient had a gallstone blocking this duct, which was removed with a balloon catheter (still in place within the duct). 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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