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Difference between Gall bladder and Kidney stones

Gallbladder and Kidneys both can get affected with stones. These may range from few millimeters to even few centimeters in size and can be equally painful. But how can you differentiate between these two?

What are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are mineral and acid salt deposits that clump together in concentrated urine. They generally cause discomfort when moving through the urinary tract. Sudden onset, unbearable pain in the flanks, reddish coloured urine, painful urination are some of it’s common symptoms. A stationary kidney stone is usually asymptomatic, unless it is 1 cm or more in diameter and is causing obstruction of the urinary tract.

What are Gallbladder Stones?

Gallstones are clumps of cholesterol that have solidified. As mentioned earlier, they can range from few millimeters to few centimeters in size. They can be multiple or solitary. They can cause symptoms such as indigestion, bloating and repeated pain on the right side of abdomen. In some cases, they can result in severe abdominal pain and vomiting. This condition is known as ‘Acute cholecystitis’ and needs emergency treatment. If not treated on time it can lead to gangrene and perforation of gall bladder which may even prove life threatening! Apart from this, they can also cause problems such as obstructive jaundice (gall stones causing obstruction of bile duct) and acute pancreatitis. These too need emergency medical care. Gallbladder removal surgery is frequently required for people who have symptoms. Gallstones that do not produce symptoms may or may not need treatment, depending on the number and size of gallstones.

What is the difference between these two?

Gallstones form in the gall bladder while kidney stones form in the urinary tract. The pain due to gallstones is in the upper abdomen (middle or right) and can radiate to the right scapula bone in the back or right shoulder. It may be accompanied by nausea or vomiting

The pain due to kidney stone is in the flanks (side of abdomen) and it usually radiates to the groin. This pain too may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting. However, these patients have urinary complaints – burning and pain while urinating, reddish coloured urine or in some cases, even inability to pass urine.

Gall bladder stones are commonly seen  in obese patients above 40 years. Kidney stones can occur irrespectiveof obesity and in any age group.

A diet high in cholesterol and fats can lead to the formation of gall bladder stones and a diet insufficient of calcium and fluids can cause kidney stones.

Gallstones usually need treatment by surgical removal of gall bladder. It is done laparoscopically by a General Surgeon. Kidney stones need removal by endoscopy only if large in size and are causing obstruction of the urinary tract. It is done by a Urologist.

Thus, the gall bladder and kidney stones are two different health problems. It is essential to be aware of this since their treatment too varies.

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