Gallstones

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).
Reviewed on 4/11/2014
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