Gallstones are small stone-like materials found in the gall bladder. The gall bladder is a small sac that contains the bile, which is the digestive fluid produced by the liver to break down and digest fats.
Gallstones are made of hardened bile. The bile is made up of cholesterol, water, fats, bile salts and bilirubin (red blood cells waste product). If the bile contains high levels of cholesterol, bilirubin or bile salts, it becomes less aqueous and therefore hardens into stones.
Gallstones can be present as one large gallstone, the size of a golf ball, or as little stones, or even a combination of both. There are two types of gallstones:
- Cholesterol stones which are the most common type
- Pigment stones which are formed when there is high level of bilirubin in the system
You may have mixed stones, both cholesterol stones and pigment stones.