Eric Clapton has Surgery, Pulls out of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert

Rock and Roll giant, Eric Clapton, has had to pull out of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert this week because he had surgery to remove gallstones. Kristen Foster, a publicist for the guitarist, said Tuesday that Clapton was doing well and recuperating with his family in England. The concert is being held at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary.

What are gallstones?
Gallstones  are small hard deposits that form in the gallbladder. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball.  The gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac located just below the liver in the right upper portion of the abdomen. It is essentially a storage sac that holds bile between meals.

Bile is a thick yellow-green digestive fluid which contains primarily cholesterol, bile acids (also called bile salts),and bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells). It also contains water and body salts (potassium and sodium). It’s function is to break down fats into fatty acids which can be absorbed by the body.

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Source: NIDDK

The two types of gallstones (medically referred to as cholelithiasis) are cholesterol stones and pigment (or bile) stones . Cholesterol stones are usually yellow-green and are made primarily of hardened cholesterol. They account for about 80percent of gallstones. Pigment stones are small, dark stones made of bilirubin. The gallbladder can develop just one large stone, hundreds of tiny stones, or a combination of the two. Scientists believe cholesterol stones form when bile contains too much cholesterol, too much bilirubin, or not enough bile salts,or when the gallbladder does not empty completely or often enough.The reason these imbalances occur is not known.

Gallstones, in themselves, do not cause any symptoms. It is only when a gallstone moves into any of the bile duct and obstructs it that symptoms occur. Symptoms include the sudden onset of pain which increases over time, and can last 30 minutes to a few hours. It can be located in the right upper part of the abdomen, between the shoulder blades, or below the right shoulder. This is often referred to as a gallbladder “attack”.

Treatment is not necessary for asymptomatic gallstones, however, if a patient is having frequent gallbladder attacks, then treatment consists of removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy). In the past this was done by an open surgical procedure, but now it is most frequently done by laparoscopic surgery (using small incisions in the abdomen), which decreases recovery time and has a lower incidence of complications.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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