Cholelithiasis Misdiagnosis

Cholelithiasis is the present of stones in the gall bladder. The gall bladder stores bile from the liver, and releases it into the digestive tract when it is needed to digest fats. Sometimes the gall bladder becomes thickened and the bile, along with calcium, forms hard deposits in the gall bladder. These deposits are not normal. If these stones become stuck in the ducts that deliver the bile, this delivery system can become partially or completely blocked. The lack of flow backs up the bile, causing inflammation, often leading to an infection from the bowel bacteria. Other areas of the digestive track can become infected including the liver and the pancreas. Clearly, misdiagnosed cholelithiasis can lead to many problems. Worse, due to the cholelithiasis, the cells can become damaged, leading to the development of cancer.


Often cholelithiasis is diagnosed in a patient with right upper quadrant pain. There is an associated increase in pain after eating a fatty meal. Patients with this condition often are overweight, forty, and female. There is a sign that doctors use called Murphy’s sign to help diagnose this condition. If a patient has pain in the most sensitive part of the abdomen and the gall bladder area cannot be compressed, the patient is positive for this sign. However, a true diagnosis cannot be made without using ultrasound, or the invasive endoscopic retrograde cholanginopancreatography. Other symptoms often seem include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and the development of yellow pigment in the eyes and skin. Blood tests are also used to check on the levels of liver secretions in the blood stream.


A bad diagnosis occurs most often in those patients that do not present typical symptoms. These patients may be male, have a slight fever with nausea, or diarrhea. They may present with stomach pain in the other admoninal areas than the upper right quadrant. Patients may present with multiple symptoms for more than one condition, leading the clinician to focus attention an a different condition. Or, the symptoms that present to the doctor may truly give the appearance of another condition.

The abdomen is a large area of the body, and often more than one disease may be present. Doctors often like to find the “root” cause, feeling that by eliminating that problem all the rest of the symptoms will them vanish. Conditions like stomach ulcers, an intestinal infection, panreatitis, appendicitis, or blockage of the bowel may be diagnosed with tests that will show cholelithiasis. Sometimes, the doctor just doesn’t check for this condition despite the patient showing up with all the expected symptoms.