Brown Pigment Gallstones Treatment

Brown Pigment Gallstones Removal 

Gallstones are crystal like structures that are formed in the gallbladder due to various reasons. Brown pigment gallstones are a type of pigment stones formed because of a reduced contraction of the gallbladder or an obstruction caused to the flow of bile in the bile ducts. Because of the obstruction the bacteria from the duodenum ascend to the gallbladder and alter the bilirubin in the bile. This altered bilirubin combines with other constituents of bile like calcium and forms a pigment which is similar to cholesterol and is not soluble in bile. This pigment sticks together to form particles and grow as gallstones. These stones are softer than black pigment gallstones.

Composition, Color and Consistency

The brown pigment stones get their colour from the amount of calcium salts present in them. The presence of cholesterol also changes the consistency of pigment stones. Mucin glycoprotein is the compound that cements the stone. Brown pigment stones contain more amount of cholesterol and hence softer and more greasy than black pigment gallstones.

Size and Quantity

Pigment stones are usually smaller than cholesterol stones and measure less than 1.5 centimters. Brown stones usually occur as a single stone.


Brown pigment stones are usually seen in the bile ducts and commonly occur due to an infection.


Brown pigment stones are said to be radiolucent and may not be detected through an x-ray.

Symptoms of Brown Pigment Gallstones

As these stones are usually present in the bile duct they cause blockage and because of which there is an increase of pressure in the gallbladder and one or more symptoms occur.

  • steady pain in the upper abdomen on the right side that increases rapidly and lasts from 30 minutes to several hours
  • pain in the back between the shoulder blades
  • pain under the right shoulder
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea may be accompanied by vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Clay coloured stools
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes as in jaundice

These symptoms may be severe sometimes so it is better to consult a doctor if you find any such symptoms.

Brown Pigment Gallstones Causes:

  • These stones are formed  when the amount of bilirubin in the bile is high.
  • Other substances in the bile also may promote the formation of stones.
  • Pigment stones are often formed in people who have liver disease or blood disease or  high levels of bilirubin.
  • Poor muscle tone also may promote the formation of gallstones by keeping the gallbladder from emptying completely as the remaining bile helps in the formation of stones.
  • Other causes may be Hemolytic anemia in which there is a deficiency of hemoglobin as the old red blood cells are destroyed, Sickle cell anemia in which the blood cells are deformed and can be broken easily producing more bilirubin, Escherichia coli infection in which the bacteria from duodenum may pass to the gallbladder and alter the bilirubin, Round worm infection in which there is a build up of bile and liver cirrhosis in which large amounts of bilirubin are produced.

Brown Pigment Gallstones Treatment:

Following are the methods  to get rid of  Brown Pigment Gallbladder stones

Brown Pigment Gallstones Treatment can be done in three ways. One is Surgical treatment, the other is Non-surgical treatment and the last one is the natural treatment.

Non-surgical treatment:

This treatment comprises of Oral dissolution therapy, Contact dissolution therapy and Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy. These treatments are more suitable for cholesterol stones than pigment stones.

Surgical Treatment:

This is done in three ways. Laproscopic surgery, traditional open surgery and surgery for blocked bile ducts.

Laproscopic Surgery:

This surgery is done by making several tiny incisions of 5 to 10 mm size and the medical instruments along with a camera connected to a computer are sent inside and the gallbladder is removed by monitoring through the computer.

Open surgery:

This surgery is usually performed on those who have some infection in the gallbladder or any other complications which make the patient unsuitable for laproscopy. In this surgery the incisions are big and measure from 5 to 8 inch and hence the recovery time is too much.

Surgery for Blocked bile ducts:

As the brown pigment gallstones are usually present in the bile ducts this surgery is the common way to remove them. This is done in two steps as the gallbladder removal alone may not remove the stones.

  1. In this case, Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is used to remove the gallstones from the blocked duct. The method is similar to ERCP used to diagnose gallbladder disease, The only difference is that  an instrument is used on the endoscope to cut the duct. The stone is caught in a tiny basket and is removed with the endoscope.
  2. ERCP can be done either before removing the gallbladder, or during the cholecystectomy.

Natural Treatment:

In addition to all the above treatments there is one more treatment which does not involve any types of medications or surgery and takes the help of simple home remedies. This works by dissolving the stones but is a slow process.