Gallbladder - small organ that stores and concentrates bile. It is connected to the liver and helps
in the digestion of fats by allowing the mixture of digestive bile with fats.
Bile is a digestive liquid secreted by the liver, that neutralizes acids and emulsifies fats in partly digested food.
A muscular valve in the common bile duct opens, and the bile flows from the gallbladder into the cystic duct,
along the common bile duct, and into the duodenum (part of the small intestine).
Diseases of the Gallbladder
Sometimes the substances contained in bile crystallize in the gallbladder, forming gallstones.
Gallstones are more common in persons over 40, especially in women and the obese.
- Gallstones can cause inflammation of the gallbladder, a disorder that produces symptoms similar to those of indigestion
- Gallstones lodged in the bile duct produce severe pain
- Gallstones may pass out of the body spontaneously
- Serious blockage is treated by removing the gallbladder surgically
Removing the Gallbladder
The surgery to remove the gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy. During a cholecystectomy, the gallbladder is removed through
cut in the abdomen so the bile is delivered directly from the liver ducts to the upper part of the intestine. The loss of the gallbladder
is not lethal but can sometimes cause diarrhea, dehydration from which can sometimes lead to death.
Other complications are:
- Infection and injury to the duct (tube) that carries bile from the gallbladder to the stomach
Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems
Symptoms indicative of gallbladder problems:
- Pain or tenderness under right rib cage
- Pain between shoulder blades
- Stools light or chalky colored
- Indigestion, especially from fatty or greasy foods
General symptoms that can also be related to gallbladder problems:
- Abdominal Bloating
- Excessive Gas
- Excessive Burping
- Feeling of fullness
- Food not digesting
- Bitter fluid comes up after eating
- Diarrhea (alternating from soft to watery)
- Headache over eyes, especially right
Gallagher attacks tend to be more severe and dangerous than the common gallbladder problems. These are symptoms of a
gallbladder attack that occur in addition to the common gallbladder symptoms.
- Attacks can last from 15 minutes to 15 hours
- Moderate to severe pain under the right side of the rib cage
- Radiating pain through to the back or to the right shoulder
- Severe upper abdominal pain (biliary colic)
- Attacks often occur at night
- Pain may be worse with deep inhalation
Symptoms of a gallbladder attack are often caused by gallbladder stones blocking the neck of the gallbladder or stuck in a bile duct
inhibiting the flow of bile or possibly causing a backing up of bile.
However, short of causing an actual attack, stones may be present for years and never cause any symptoms at all.
Gallstones may exist in the body for years and never exhibit any of the above symptoms. These are called
asymptomatic, meaning you do not have any symptoms. These are called silent gallstones.