Gallbladder claimed scribe Chatung’s life: Specialists

Beyond the Horizon

By Pradeep Kumar

There were many misgivings about the cause of death of pioneer electronic journalist Taro Chatung at the age of only 57 on October 26 while undergoing treatment in TRIMHS leaving the state media fraternity in deep shock.

TRIMHS specialists Dr Hage Sonia and Tertiary Cancer Centre in-charge Dr S Tsering, who checked his medical records, said with shock that gallbladder caused cancer that led to his death and nothing else. They were wondering if Chatung never conducted health check-up.

“Gallbladder cancer is uncommon. When gallbladder cancer is discovered at its earliest stages, the chance of its cure is very good. But most gallbladder cancers are discovered at a late stage, when the prognosis is often very poor. Gallbladder cancer is difficult to diagnose because it often causes no specific signs or symptoms. Also, the relatively hidden nature of the gallbladder makes it easier for gallbladder cancer to grow without being detected,” according to medical record.

However, master health check-up (MHC) which covers all aspects of a human body could easily detect gallbladder. After visiting super specialty hospital Chennai’s Apollo Hospital and Vellore’s Christian Medical College (CMC) for someone’s treatment, I learnt about MHC about a decade ago but regrettably no hospital in Arunachal Pradesh offers such test though present state government has attached top priority to health and education sectors.

However, I approached RKM Hospital, which conducts health check-up of uniformed personnel yearly, to introduce same tests for the masses. But the RKMH authority expressed inability for lack of adequate staff.

When approached, TRIMHS director Dr Moji Jini, an alumni of CMC, agreed to the need of MHC. All spade works for strengthening the first medical college of the state are on, he said, adding such test could be considered only at a later stage.

The gallbladder is a small pouch that sits just under the liver and stores bile produced by the liver. After meals, the gallbladder is empty and flat, like a deflated balloon. Before a meal, the gallbladder may be full of bile and about the size of a small pear.

In response to signals, the gallbladder squeezes stored bile into the small intestine through a series of tubes called ducts. Bile helps digest fats, but the gallbladder itself is not essential. Removing the gallbladder in an otherwise healthy individual typically causes no observable problems with health or digestion yet there may be a small risk of diarrhea and fat malabsorption.

Causes: Substances in bile can crystallize in the gallbladder forming gallstones for unclear reasons. Common and usually harmless, gallstones can sometimes cause pain, nausea, or inflammation.

Tests: Abdominal ultrasound, HIDA scan (cholescintigraphy), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatograph (ERCP), magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), endoscopic ultrasound and abdominal X-rays tests detect gallbladder. Such tests are conducted only after a physician prescribes.

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