What is the Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that stores and concentrates bile. The gallbladder is connected to the liver by the hepatic duct. It is approximately 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm) long and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. The gallbladder is also called a ‘gall bladder’.
What is its Function?
The function of the gallbladder is to store bile and concentrate. Bile is a digestive liquid continually secreted by the liver. The bile emulsifies fats and neutralizes acids 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).
Conditions and Diseases of the gallbladder
Sometimes the substances contained in bile crystallize in the gallbladder, forming gallstones. These small, hard concretions are more common in persons over 40, especially in women and the obese. They can cause inflammation of the gallbladder, a disorder that produces symptoms similar to those of indigestion, especially after a fatty meal is consumed. If a stone becomes lodged in the bile duct, it produces severe pain. Gallstones may pass out of the body spontaneously; however, serious blockage is treated by removing the gallbladder surgically.
Removal of the Gallbladder
In some cases, the gallbladder must be removed. The surgery to remove the gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy (pronounced co-lee-sist-eck-toe-mee). In a cholecystectomy, the gallbladder is removed through a 5- to 8-inch long cut in your abdomen. Once the gallbladder is removed, bile is delivered directly from the liver ducts to the upper part of the intestine.
Complications from Gallbladder removal
Complications are rare. When complications occur, they may be in the form of: bleeding, infection and injury to the duct (tube) that carries bile from your gallbladder to your stomach. Some patients also experience diarrhea. The cause of diarrhea after gallbladder removal isn’t clear.