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Gallbladder Disease


Gallbladder disease is common in the general population.

The gallbladder is hidden in the right upper abdomen and situated under the right liver lobe to which it is attached. Here is a link to an image of this complex anatomy. The liver produces bile all the time, which drains into the hepatic ducts, which are joining in the common hepatic duct. From there a long thin cystic duct leads into the gallbladder deep under the right liver lobe.

Between meals the bile gets concentrated in the gall bladder as it absorbs 90% of water and electrolytes.

This leads to a concentrated bile, which at meal time is released by the action of cholecystokinin and other GI hormone peptides (powerful gastrointestinal hormones). These hormones cause the gall bladder to contract and at the same time release the outlet valve, which moves the concentrated bile through the cystic and common bile duct into the duodenum.

The last part of the common bile duct often fuses with the main pancreatic duct and both open into the duodenum through the pancreaticoduodenal ampulla (=ampulla of Vater). None of this anatomy is all that important for the layperson, but it explains to the physician a number of pathological conditions, as we shall see below.

 Gallbladder Disease

Gallbladder Disease

Two major gallbladder diseases are important: cholelithiasis (commonly known as gall stones), where the bile ducts can get obstructed through a migrating gall stone; and  cholecystitis (gallbladder infection), which is an infection of the gallbladder with bacteria. Bacteria love to multiply in bile fluid, which explains, why this disease is fairly common, particularly in cases where the bile flow is interrupted because of a gall stone.

Look for further links in “Related Topics” below.


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Last modified: October 23, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.