You have a lot of gall!

Gallstones are stones that form within the gallbladder, which is a small sac below our liver.  Gallbladder pain is felt on the right side of our abdomen,  below the rib cage.

 

Gallstones, also called “cholelithiasis”, are formed when bile salts, cholesterol, and bilirubin accumulate in the gallbladder.

 

Gallstones can block the gallbladder, causing excruciating pain.   Gallstones can lead to an infection of the gallbladder called “cholecystitis”, and can also cause the pancreas to become inflamed.

 

Risk factors for gallstones include prior pregnancies (estrogen increases the formation of gallstones), obesity, and they are more common as we age. Ten to fifteen percent of all Americans have gallstones.

 

If gallstones are causing pain or other problems, then the gallbladder is removed in a surgery called a “cholecystectomy”.  The function of the gallbladder is to store bile from the liver, and release it into the intestines to help absorb fats. But once the gallbladder is removed, we never miss it as it serves a very small digestive function.

A gallbladder that has been removed at surgery and is full of gallstones:

gallstones

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