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Normally a balance of bile salts, lecithin and cholesterol prevents gallstones from forming. If there are abnormally high levels of bile salts or, more commonly, cholesterol, stones can form. Symptoms usually occur if stones block one of the biliary ducts. Gallstones may also be discovered upon ultrasound or abdominal CT study.
Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Senior Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.