Sand, biliary: Biliary sand is a term mostly used by surgeons when they remove the gallbladder to describe uncountable, small particles in bile that are visible to the naked eye. Biliary sand may be looked upon as a stage in the growth of the particles that comprise sludge (which are microscopic and not visible to the naked eye) and gallstones, which are large enough to be counted easily. The composition of biliary sand varies but is similar to the composition of gallstones. The most common components of biliary sand are cholesterol crystals and calcium salts.
Biliary sand may cause no symptoms or cause intermittent symptoms. Symptoms of biliary sand are similar to those of gallstones and include pain in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, particularly after a fatty meal. Biliary sand can cause complications, including inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis).
Biliary sand often can be detected by an ultrasound of the abdomen.
If patients with biliary sand develop symptoms or complications, gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) is performed as treatment.