The gallbladder is a small pear shaped organ that is attached to the underside of the liver. The gallbladder stores bile - a fluid that helps digest fat. The bile flows from the gallbladder along a small tube (bile duct) into the duodenum (small bowel) after eating fatty meals. Gallstones (biliary calculi) are small stones made from cholesterol, bile pigment and calcium salts, usually in a mixture that forms in the gallbladder. One in 5 people develop gallstones and 1/3 may develop symptoms related to gallstones. Risk factors for gallstones include age, female sex, obesity and other conditions (ileal disease/resection, cirrhosis, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, long-term total parenteral nutrition (TPN), long-term dieting, haemolysis).
The gallbladder is not essential for healthy digestion. Once a gallbladder has been removed, bile will still flow from the liver to the small intestine.
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