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Gallbladder and Pancreatic Conditions

Gallbladder Disease

What is the gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a small organ located near the liver. It helps in fat digestion and storage of bile, which carries fat through the small intestine. Although it has many helpful functions in the human body, the gall bladder is not necessary for survival and can be surgically removed.

What are gallstones?

If the gallbladder is not working properly, stones (small pebble-like substances that form when bile stored in the gallbladder hardens) can form and cause pain and discomfort, especially after eating a fatty meal. In severe cases, these stones can lead to infection of the gallbladder or pancreatitis. Although these stones can develop in anyone, the following factors result in a greater risk:

  • Female
  • Age over 40 years
  • Obesity
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Rapid weight loss
  • High fat, low fiber diet

How are gallbladder stones treated?

While there are medications that can be used to dissolve stones, they are not always effective and stones may recur if medication is stopped.

Surgery has a 99 percent cure rate for gallstones because the gallbladder is removed. This procedure (cholesystectomy) requires three to four small (one-inch) incisions in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. Following this minimally invasive procedure, patients can resume their normal lives in a few days.

Find more information on gallstones and gallbladder disease here.

Find a physician who specializes in treatment of gallbladder disease here or call 866 DIGEST-1.

To contact NYM’s Division of Gastroenterology, call 718 780-3851.

Pancreatic Conditions

What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is a small but very important organ in the abdominal area. It releases hormones and enzymes that help to break down food, and regulate blood sugar. If there is a problem with the pancreas, food is not properly broken down and this can cause problems with blood sugar, because the pancreas makes insulin. People who have type 1 diabetes (child onset diabetes) are unable to make insulin because of damage to the pancreas.

What is pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed (or swollen). This can cause pain in the abdomen, which radiates to the back, on the right side. Pancreatitis is most frequently caused by either excessive alcohol or stones in the tubes (or ducts) where the pancreas release its enzymes and hormones. It is very important for people who have had pancreatitis to stop consuming alcohol because this can cause the inflammation to recur.

If pancreatitis occurs multiple times, chronic pancreatitis can develop. Chronic pancreatitis may cause stones to develop in the pancreas, which causes chronic pain. High blood sugar may result, because the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin. The chances of progressing to pancreatic cancer may be increased.

How is pancreatitis diagnosed and treated?

Pancreatitis can be a life-threatening disease with many complications and requires emergent hospitalization. Pancreatitis can be detected in blood work and CT scan. An endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ECRP) is a very specialized procedure that is performed if pancreatitis is caused by a stone blocking the ducts. The benefit of an ERCP is that it can not only reveal the presence of stones, but can also remove them and, if necessary, be used to place stents to keep the ducts open. At NYM, experts in the field of gastroenterology, are specially trained to perform this procedure.

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is another diagnostic procedure performed at NYM. If cancer of the pancreas is suspected, it can be used to take a biopsy without performing open surgery. A small needle is used to aspirate tissue from the lesion, which is then examined under a microscope. EUS is successful in detecting up to 95 percent of pancreatic cancer. Early detection may lead to a better prognosis.

Like ERCP, EUS is very specialized procedure. At NYM, we have highly trained specialists who are proficient in this technique.

The goal of treatment for pancreatitis is to give the bowel rest and manage pain. Usually, the swelling resolves by itself, but there can be complications, such as infections. Antibiotics may be needed if there is an infection.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is unfortunately very dangerous and difficult to treat. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) can be used to take a biopsy if cancer is suspected.

Find a physician who specializes in digestive disorders here
or call 866 DIGEST-1.

To contact NYM’s Division of Gastroenterology, call 718.780.3851.

Contact NYM

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