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Symptoms and Signs of Symptoms and Signs: Gallbladder Attack

Doctor's Notes on Symptoms and Signs: Gallbladder Attack

A gallbladder attack is a symptom/sign of a condition termed biliary colic. Biliary colic is when a gallstone gets stuck in the bile duct and the blockage causes pressure and pain. The gallbladder attack is usually a combination of the following: nausea, with or without vomiting, pain (sharp, cramping or dull) in the right upper or middle abdomen in the evening, before bedtime or after a heavy meal. The pain subsides when the blocking stone eventually passes into the intestine; Gallbladder attacks have a duration range of about 15 minutes to several hours.

The cause of gallbladder attacks is due to a gallstone that gets lodged in the bile duct, causing pressure to occur back into the gallbladder and/or the liver as bile keeps backing up. The back pressure causes distension or stretching that, in turn, produces pain.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.