ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gallstones. Coloured ultrasound scan of the gallbladder of a 46-year-old woman, with shadows (dark areas) showing the presence of gallstones (upper centre). The gallbladder has been scanned in transverse axial section. The gallbladder stores the digestive fluid bile, produced by the liver. Gallstone formation (cholelithiasis) occurs when gallstones, hard deposits formed of cholesterol and bile salts, form from an imbalance in the composition of the bile. Gallstones are usually symptomless, unless one obstructs the bile duct, causing acute pain, jaundice and infection. Treatment is with drugs to dissolve the gallstones, or surgical removal of the gallbladder.
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