Gallstones affect one in 10 American adults and occur even more frequently in those over 65, but most people who have them never experience any symptoms and need no treatment. Symptoms, when they do occur, include pain in the upper abdomen below the breast bone or on the right side; this pain may radiate around to the back or the right shoulder blade. Abdominal bloating, nausea and vomiting are additional symptoms and may follow the ingestion of a heavy meal or rich food.
Clarence D. Lin, M.D., a general surgeon with St. Clair Medical Services, says that when a patient has symptoms plus confirmation of gallstones through ultrasound or CT scan, he recommends surgery to remove the gallbladder. “Symptoms will frequently recur, and can even become life-limiting. A small number of patients may develop major complications from their gallstones, such as cholecystitis or gallstone pancreatitis. The body can adjust well to life without a gallbladder.”
Dr. Lin performs laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive procedure, at St. Clair Hospital. He removes the gallbladder using specially designed, thin instruments; as a result, there is minimal post-operative pain, bleeding and scarring. “To minimize pain, I pair the operation with a special nerve block, which makes it easy to manage pain post-operatively and at home. My patients have been pleased with this approach and only need over-the-counter pain medications for a few days.”
Risk factors for gallstones include family history, being over age 40, pregnancy, obesity, a high-fat diet, rapid weight loss, diabetes, sickle cell disease, cirrhosis of the liver and use of estrogen and certain medications.
Dr. Lin earned combined bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biophysics at Johns Hopkins University, and his medical degree at New York University School of Medicine. He specializes in general surgery and practices with Raye J. Budway, M.D., FACS, and Antonio J. Ripepi, M.D., FACS, also of St. Clair Medical Services.
To contact Dr. Lin, please call 412.942.7880.