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Gallstones are mineral deposits that form in the bile ducts.
Gallstones are crystal-like or pebble-like deposits that form in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile produced by the liver. Bile is released when certain foods, particularly those containing fat, enter the digestive tract. Bile consists, among other things, of cholesterol, bile salts, bile pigments and mineral salts. Gallstones can vary in size and shape from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a ping-pong ball. In most cases, gallstones are composed of crystallized cholesterol. Generally speaking, gallstones are not life-threatening and cause no symptoms. In some cases however, gallstones can block the ducts that carry bile to the liver or intestines, causing severe abdominal pain. This is known as biliary colic or hepatic colic and must be addressed.
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