Health Resources


What are Gallstones

Gallstones are small, pebble-like formations, which are hardened deposits of digestive fluid in the gallbladder. There are two types of gallstones: cholesterol gallstones and pigment gallstones. Cholesterol stones are usually yellow-green and made of hardened cholesterol. Pigment stones are small dark stones made of bilirubin.

Causes of the condition

The causes of gallstones are not clear. However, it may be due to excessive amounts of cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile caused by the gallbladder not emptying completely or often enough.

Signs & symptoms
While there may be no signs or symptoms of gallstones, symptoms can include:

  • ‚ÄčThere may be no signs or symptoms
  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of abdomen
  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the centre of abdomen just below the breastbone
  • Back pain between the shoulder blades
  • Pain in the right shoulder
  • Pain that lasts several minutes to a few hours
  • Clay coloured stool
Diagnosis and treatment options

‚ÄčTest and diagnosis

Abdominal ultrasound or computerised tomography (CT) scan, tests to check bile ducts for gallbladders and blood tests to investigate for complications.


Cholecystectomy may be performed to surgically remove the gallbladder.
Last updated on
Best viewed with Chrome 79.0, Edge 112.0, Firefox 61.0, Safari 11
National University Health System
  • National University Hospital
  • Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
  • Alexandra Hospital
  • Jurong Community Hospital
  • National University Polyclinics
  • Jurong Medical Centre
  • National University Cancer Institute, Singapore
  • National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  • National University Centre for Oral Health, Singapore
  • NUHS Diagnostics
  • NUHS Pharmacy
  • Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
Back to Top