Surgeons at Guanji Hospital, in Hezhou, China, recently spent six hours removing over 200 stones from a woman’s gallbladder and liver, some of them the size of small eggs.
The patient, a 45-year-old woman known only as Ms. Chen, had apparently been experiencing abdominal pain for over a decade. When she first went to a hospital about it, an examination revealed several stones in her gallbladder and liver as the cause. Doctors advised her to undergo surgery and have them removed, but she was too scared to go under the knife. She only recently went to Guanji Hospital, when the pain became “unbearable”.
The woman’s surgery lasted six and a half hours, during which time, doctors removed over 200 stones from her gallbladder and liver, from small gravel-like pebbles, to rocks the size of eggs.
Dr. Quan Xuwei, one of the surgeons who performed the operation, said that such a large number of stones was unusual, adding that it was probably caused by the woman’s eating habits. The woman, who was making a living by collecting rosin from pine trees, often skipped breakfast completely, and ate leftovers at irregular hours. This caused the bile to build up in the gallbladder, leading to high cholesterol and calcium levels, which crystallized into stones.
Dr. Quan said that many of his patients who suffer from gallstones have a habit of skipping or rushing their breakfast. However, his theory that skipping breakfast can lead to the formation of gallbladder and liver stones is unsupported by medical evidence.
Dr George Webster, the vice president of the British Society of Gastroenterology, told Daily Mail that the theory was “pure speculation”, adding that gallstones are common worldwide, but their cause is often unknown. Infection in the bile ducts are a likely explanation, which is why gallstone cases are more frequent in China and Eastern Asia than in the West.