The gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac located under the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen, according to MayoClinic.com 12. The liver produces bile—a digestive fluid that aids in the digestion of fat—and the gallbladder stores it. In response to foods, especially fats, the gallbladder releases the bile into the upper small intestine. The gallbladder is not essential to healthy digestion, so removal of the gallbladder rarely causes long-term complications.
Removal of the gallbladder, or cholecystectomy, may be indicated in patients who have cancer of the gallbladder, either to remove the cancer or to reduce pain and other symptoms, reports the American Cancer Society. If the cancer has spread outside the gallbladder, more radical surgery may be required.
Gallstones in the Gallbladder
Side Effects of Gallstones
Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder, according to MayoClinic.com 12. When gallstones form in the gallbladder--a condition called cholelithiasis--the stones may be tiny in size or as large as golf balls. Some gallstones produce no symptoms and do not require treatment. However, patients who have a severe gallstone attack or several less severe attacks may require nned to have their gallbladder removed.
- Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder, according to MayoClinic.com 1.
- When gallstones form in the gallbladder--a condition called cholelithiasis--the stones may be tiny in size or as large as golf balls.
Inflammation of the Gallbladder
Cholecystitis--inflammation of the gallbladder--can occur if a gallstone becomes lodged in the neck of the gallbladder, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Symptoms include fever and severe pain. Approximately 20 percent of patients with acute cholecystitis require emergency gallbladder removal because of widespread infection or perforation of the gallbladder.
- Cholecystitis--inflammation of the gallbladder--can occur if a gallstone becomes lodged in the neck of the gallbladder, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Gallstones in the Bile Duct
Causes of Pains in My Upper Stomach
Gallstones can block the ducts that allow bile to flow from the gallbladder or liver to the small intestine, causing severe pain, jaundice and infection. This condition, called choledocholithiasis, requires immediate medical attention.
Inflammation of the Pancreas
A gallstone that blocks the pancreatic duct—the tube between the pancreas and the common bile duct—can cause inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that causes intense, constant abdominal pain and often requires hospitalization.
Gallbladder Disease Without Gallstones
Removal of the gallbladder may be necessary when the organ does not empty well, even though no gallstones are present. Chronic acalculous gallbladder disease causes biliary colic, symptoms of which are nausea, vomiting, gas and upper right abdominal pain 1.
Side Effects of Gallstones
Causes of Pains in My Upper Stomach
What Are the Causes of Stomach Edema?
Side Effects of Gallbladder Surgery
High Levels of Alkaline Phosphatase & Pancreatitis
Upper-Right Side Abdominal Pain After Eating Steak
What Are the Causes of Pain Under the Right Shoulder Blade?
How The Body Works Without the Gall Bladder
Reasons for Elevated Amylase and Lipase
Elevated Liver & Pancreas Enzymes
- MayoClinic.com: Gallbladder Disease
- MayoClinic.com: Gallstones
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (n.d.). Gallstones. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2018). Gallstones and gallbladder disease. https://www.umms.org/ummc/patients-visitors/health-library/in-depth-patient-education-reports/articles/gallstones-and-gallbladder-disease
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- Robinson P, Perkins JC. Approach to Patients with Epigastric Pain. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2016;34(2):191-210. doi:10.1016/j.emc.2015.12.012
- Pejić MA, Milić DJ. [Surgical treatment of polypoid lesions of gallbladder]. Srp Arh Celok Lek. 2003;131(7-8):319-24.
- Genc V, Sulaimanov M, Cipe G, et al. What necessitates the conversion to open cholecystectomy? A retrospective analysis of 5164 consecutive laparoscopic operations. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2011;66(3):417-20. doi:10.1590/S1807-59322011000300009
- Katzarov AK, Dunkov ZI, Popadiin I, Katzarov KS. How to measure quality in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Ann Transl Med. 2018;6(13):265. doi:10.21037/atm.2018.05.01
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- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (n.d.). Gallstones.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2018). Gallstones and gallbladder disease.
Marcy Brinkley has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Chicken Soup for the Soul," "Texas Health Law Reporter" and the "State Bar of Texas Health Law Section Report." Her degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; a Master of Business Administration; and a Doctor of Jurisprudence.