Gallstones : 2011

Photograph by

Norm Barker

About this image

Gallstones are crystalline deposits that develop within the gall bladder. They vary in size, sometimes growing to the size of a golf ball. Their composition may be strongly crystalline or chalky, depending on the minerals involved which itself depends largely on age, diet and ethnicity. The three main types are cholesterol stones, pigment stones (bilirubin and calcium from bile) and mixed gallstones. Stones are often asymptomatic until about 8mm and larger, after which time they can cause intense pain and infection. Treatment is by using medication to dissolve the stones, breaking the stones apart using focused ultrasound (lithotripsy) or surgical removal. The image was recorded with a Nikon D700 camera and 105mm Micro Nikkor lens and a fibre optic light source. Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A