Gallstones: your questions answered

Written by: Mr Rajab Kerwat
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

Gallstones can cause various problems including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and jaundice. In severe cases, they can lead to complications such as inflammation of the gallbladder or bile ducts, infection, and pancreatitis. Esteemed consultant surgeon Mr Rajab Kerwat answers any questions you may have about gallstones.



What are gallstones, and what causes them to form in the gallbladder?


Gallstones are tiny, pebble-shaped structures that develop in the gallbladder, a small organ connected to the undersurface of the liver. They consist primarily of a mixture of cholesterol and bilirubin, a component present in our blood.


What are the typical symptoms of gallstones, and when should I seek medical attention for them?


Typical symptoms of gall stones include stomach pain, usually centered around the upper part of the stomach below the rib cage and predominantly on the right-hand side. Patients often perceive the pain to be colic-like, starting gradually and building up into a plateau lasting several hours before gradually disappearing.


This process can take anywhere between an hour to a couple of days or even longer, and the pain tends to be associated with feelings of nausea. In some cases, patients get sick because of the severity of the pain. Additionally, some patients may describe the pain as radiating to the back, between the shoulder blades, or even extending to the right shoulder tip.


Can dietary changes help prevent or manage gallstones, and are there specific foods to avoid?


Unfortunately, dietary changes alone cannot remove existing gallstones. Once gallstones are formed and start causing pain, there isn't anything that diet can do to eliminate them. However, for the majority of patients, eating fatty-rich foods tends to aggravate the symptoms of gold stones and induce a flare-up. Avoiding fatty foods reduces the frequency and intensity of the pain but doesn't make gallstones disappear.


What treatment options are available for gallstones, and when is surgery recommended?


Gallstones are quite common, and fortunately, for the majority of patients, they do not cause any symptoms. If patients are sent for a routine scan for whatever reason and gallstones are detected without any symptoms of pain or sickness, it is not necessary to offer any treatment for that patient. However, as soon as those gallstones start causing pain and the patients start experiencing symptoms, the only available treatment recommended for symptomatic gallstones is surgery. This surgery involves removing the gall bladder and the stones laparoscopically.


Are there any lifestyle changes or habits that can reduce the risk of developing gallstones?


Unfortunately, it's unknown if there are any dietary or lifestyle habits that influence the formation of gallstones.  Nevertheless, it is universally advised for individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a diet rich in fibre, low in fat, and high-water intake, along with a regular weekly exercise routine. However, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that adhering to these practices can prevent the formation of gallstones, therefore this aspect remains unexplored in scientific research.




If you are suffering from gallstones and would like to book a consultation with Mr Kerwat, do not hesitate to do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile today.

By Mr Rajab Kerwat

Mr Rajab Kerwat is a highly qualified consultant surgeon, with 20 years of experience, based in London and Orpington. He who specialises in gallstones, inguinal hernias and weight loss surgery, as well as endoscopy, hernia and reflux surgery.
Mr Kerwat has an MBBCh from Tripoli University Medical School at the University of Al Fateh, Libya, a FRCSEd from The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, a FRCS (Eng) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and was also awarded a fellowship in General Surgery from The Intercollegiate Board of Surgery.
He underwent higher surgical training in London, Cardiff and Mini fellowship training in Tokyo National Cancer Centre and the Cleveland Clinic's Bariatric (weight loss) & Metabolic Surgery Unit. More recently, he completed a clinical fellowship in advanced laparoscopic bariatric and metabolic surgery including revisional bariatric surgery in Bruges, Belgium.
Moreover, Mr Kerwat has a special interest in the management of gallstone disease. He is one of the few surgeons in the country with the combined expertise of endoscopic (ERCP) and laparoscopic (key hole) skills in the management of complicated gallstone disease. He combines laparoscopy and endoscopy ERCP skills in the management of complicated bile duct stones with jaundice and pancreatitis cases. He has advanced laparoscopic surgical skills and has performed many complex keyhole procedures such as anti-reflux for severe GORD, and complex hiatus hernia surgery for giant hiatus hernia.
He provides a wide range of hernia repair surgery including primary inguinal, femoral and recurrent incisional hernia, alongside a wide range of surgical options for hernia repair including laparoscopic TEP repair and IPOM for both primary and recurrent hernias
Mr Kerwat’s expertise in laparoscopic surgery and laparoscopic cholecystectomy is illustrated in the several articles he has published on the topic in various peer-reviewed journals. Moreover, he works to provide patients with the highest quality of care, which includes adopting an approach that incorporates continuous development and regular updates of his clinical, academic and technical skills.
He is a respected name in clinical education, and was an honorary upper GI surgeon at St Thomas' Hospital, London. He is a recognised trainer in general and laparoscopic surgery, and was a surgical tutor on the Royal College of Surgeons core surgical training programme.
He is also a member of various professional organisations including the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (AUGIS), the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) and The Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery Society (TUGSS).  

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Laser
    Laser scar therapy
    Surgical dermatology
    Hair transplant
    Scar revision
    Facial surgery
    Chin surgery (mentoplasty)
    Breast augmentation with implants
    Breast fat transfer
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.