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The gallbladder is a small pouch tucked beneath and slightly behind the liver. Its function is to store bile from the liver and to release that bile in response to food in the duodenum that needs digesting. It digests various kinds of foods but most commonly digests fats in our diet. The gallbladder, however, can become diseased. In gallbladder disease, there can be varying degrees of bladder problems, including gallstones in the gall bladder, sludge in the gall bladder and cancer of the gallbladder. The gallbladder can also become infected when it is backed up with stones or sludge. The condition called cholecystitis is when the gallbladder becomes inflamed. The condition called cholelithiasis is when there are stones in the gallbladder. Both are considered gallbladder diseases.

There can be no symptoms of gallbladder disease, even with large gallstones. Large gallstones, however, often block the outlet of the gallbladder duct and cause pain and infection. Such a condition requires treatment in the form (usually) of gallbladder surgery. If the gallbladder duct is blocked continuously, this is considered a medical emergency and gallbladder surgery must be undertaken on an emergent basis. This is especially true if the gallstone blocks the common bile duct, which sends bile from the liver and the gallbladder at the same time.

Symptoms of gallbladder disease include pain on the upper right hand side of the abdomen, although the pain can be diffuse in the abdomen or even up into the chest. Pain usually follows a meal, especially if the meal is fatty. There is nausea and vomiting in some cases of the condition and there is usually a loss of appetite.

A gallbladder attack is caused by inflammation of the gallbladder. When it is caused by stones, it means that some of the bile acids, along with cholesterol, have formed a hard stone sitting within the gallbladder that grows slowly like a snowball. Eventually it gets too big to pass through the gall bladder duct. Women are more likely to get gallstones than men and the risk is greater the more children a woman has. If she breast feeds, it lowers this risk somewhat. Hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of gallstones and gallbladder disease. Those who have had bariatric surgery to lose weight quickly are at risk for gallstones and gallbladder disease.

Tests for gallbladder disease can include a gallbladder ultrasound, which will show an enlarged gallbladder with a thickened wall and gallstones within the gallbladder. Sometimes a plain x-ray will show gallstones and a CT scan or MRI scan of the abdomen will show gallbladder disease.

The most common treatment option for gallbladder disease is surgery to remove the gallbladder. It can be done with a large external incision but is now most likely done via a laparoscope. Small incisions are made in the abdomen and a scope is inserted into the abdomen. Tools are inserted into other holes made into the abdomen and the gall bladder is removed through one of the holes. It is a quick procedure that takes care of the problem without difficulty.

In some cases, you can take medications that shrink gallstones. One of these medications is called Actigall. The process is not fast so that if there is infection or inflammation of the gallbladder, there is no reason to wait around and the individual needs surgery. A medication called Ursodiol is an oral bile acid that dissolves gallstones related to the excess formation of cholesterol into a stone. Using Ursodiol works in about forty percent of situations of gallbladder disease. Doctors can infuse solvents, including a medication called Moctanin directly into the bile duct to dissolve gallstones if it is too risky to remove the gallbladder. Shock wave lithotripsy is another technique that breaks up big stones, allowing the smaller stones to pass through the bile duct.

You should eat a low fat diet if you have gallbladder disease. This reduces the incidence of pain when eating food and reduces the output of bile acids from the bile duct.

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Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Gallbladder Disease solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Gallbladder Disease solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here