Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.
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 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 through the common bile duct and directly into the intestine where the bile mixes with food and promotes digestion of food.
- The second direction is into and offshoot of the common bile duct, 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 the common duct.
Next: What causes gallstones?
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