Cholesterolosis is a common affection of the biliary system, characterized by the accumulation and deposition of cholesterol inside the gall bladder and in its mucosal membranes. Cholesterolosis usually occurs due to chemical imbalances at the level of the biliary system and the disorder is rarely associated with high serum cholesterol levels, diabetes mellitus or atherosclerosis. Cholesterolosis generally occurs on the premises of inappropriate activity of the gall bladder and changes in the composition of bile, facilitating the deposition of cholesterol inside the gall bladder and biliary ducts. In the absence of an appropriate treatment, cholesterolosis can lead to serious complications, including gall bladder cancer.
Although this type of gall bladder disorder can occur in both sexes, cholesterolosis commonly affects women. Also, cholesterolosis has the highest incidence in people with ages over 50. Most patients with cholesterolosis are asymptomatic, rarely experiencing symptoms such as diffuse abdominal pain or discomfort. While the disorder is treatable in its early stages, advanced forms of cholesterolosis require surgical intervention. Medical reports indicate that cholesterolosis is responsible for more than 50 percent of cholecystectomies (surgical procedure that involves removal of the diseased gall bladder).
Cholesterolosis can affect the gall bladder locally or generally. General forms of cholesterolosis appear as inflammation of the gall bladder mucosa, corroborated with yellow staining of the gall bladder tissues and membranes (due to deposition of fat). Localized forms of cholesterolosis are characterized by the formation of small polyps, soft prominences that emerge from the gall bladder interior walls. The size of these polyps varies from 1 to 10 mm.
Cholesterolosis can be only be revealed by modern scanning techniques such as ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound tests can quickly unveil the presence of polyps and lipidic masses associated with cholesterolosis. Polyps appear as immobile prominences attached to gall bladder mucosal walls. The presence of these prominences rarely involves hardening or thickening of the gall bladder interior membranes. Patients who present smaller polyps usually receive medication treatments for overcoming the disorder. However, the presence of larger polyps often involves cholecystectomy. Patients confronted with such gall bladder problems may also receive biopsies before surgery. Although gall bladder polyps are usually benign, cholesterolosis can also lead to malignant activity at the level of the biliary system.
Similar to cholesterolosis, adenomyomatosis is a disorder that can also lead to malignant cellular activity at the level of the gall bladder. Unlike most forms of cholesterolosis, adenomyomatosis is characterized by thickening of the gall bladder mucosal walls. In order to distinguish between the two disorders, doctors commonly inspect the integrity and the general aspect of the gall bladder walls before deciding upon the final diagnosis. Speed is vital in diagnosing and treating gall bladder disorders such as cholesterolosis and adenomyomatosis, as both these affections can lead to malignancies. Prompt medical intervention can easily make the difference between complete recovery and partial recovery that exposes patients to a high risk of malignant disease.