Dennis Lee, MD
Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
In this Article
- Gallstones facts
- What are gallstones?
- What causes gallstones?
- Who is at risk for gallstones?
- What are the symptoms of gallstones?
- What are the complications of gallstones?
- What is the relationship of gallbladder sludge to gallstones?
- How are gallstones diagnosed?
- What are the potential pitfalls of diagnosing gallstones?
- How are gallstones treated?
- Can gallstones be prevented?
- Can symptoms continue after gallstones are removed?
- What is new with gallstones?
- Pictures of Digestive Disease Myths - Slideshow
- Take the Quiz: Tummy Trouble Digestive Disorders
- Pictures of Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis) - Slideshow
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
What are gallstones?
Gallstones (often misspelled as gall stones, or gall stone) are stones that form in the gall (bile) within the gallbladder. (The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ just below the liver that stores the bile secreted by the liver.)
- Bile is a watery liquid made by the cells of
the liver that is important for digesting food in the intestine, particularly fat.
- Liver cells secrete
the bile into small canals within the liver.
- The bile flows through the canals and into larger
collecting ducts within the liver (the intrahepatic bile ducts).
- The bile then flows through the intrahepatic bile ducts out of the liver and into the extrahepatic bile ducts-first into the hepatic bile ducts, then into the common hepatic duct, and finally into the common bile duct.
From the common bile duct, there are two different directions that bile can flow.
- The first direction is the common bile duct and into the intestine where the bile mixes with food
and promotes digestion of food.
- The second direction is into the cystic duct, and from there into the gallbladder (often misspelled as gall bladder).
Once in the gallbladder, bile is concentrated by the removal (absorption) of water. During a meal, the muscle that makes up the wall of the gallbladder contracts and squeezes the concentrated bile in the gallbladder back through the cystic duct into the common duct and then into the intestine. (Concentrated bile is much more effective for digestion than the un-concentrated bile that goes from the liver straight into the intestine.) The timing of gallbladder contraction-during a meal-allows the concentrated bile from the gallbladder to mix with food.
Gallstones usually form in the gallbladder; however, they also may form anywhere there is bile; in the intrahepatic, hepatic, common bile, and cystic ducts.
Gallstones also may move about in the bile, for example, from the gallbladder into the cystic or common duct.
Next: What causes gallstones?
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