Gallbladder Function

Location of Gallbladder
Location of Gallbladder

What is the gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a sack like organ attached to, and tucked under, the liver. It has an important function in the digestive system. Digestion is the process of making nutrients and energy producing substances available to body tissues and cells.

The role of the gallbladder is to collect and store bile that the liver has produced and discharge it into the small intestine after a fatty meal. When functioning correctly a person is not aware of their gallbladder. However, if something does go wrong it can be very painful. One of the most common and painful complications is gallstones.

Why does the gallbladder produce bile?

Bile is a thick, bitter, yellowish or greenish fluid made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder.  The function of bile is to neutralise the acidity of partially digested food in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. Bile is released from the gallbladder into the small intestine in response to the presence of food and is essential to the digestion of fats.

Food leaves the stomach as a thickish, acidic liquid called chyme and enters the duodenum. The duodenum makes and releases large quantities of mucus, which protects it from damage by acid and other enzymes in the chyme. The duodenum also receives pancreatic juices from the pancreas and considerable quantities of bile, which is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder.

The liver produces approximately 1 litre of bile daily. Although over 95 per cent water, bile contains a wide range of chemicals including bile salts, mineral salts, cholesterol and bile pigments which give it a characteristic greenish colour.

How does bile move from the liver to the gallbladder to the duodenum?

Bile is made continuously by every cell in the liver. It flows from these cells and collects in minute channels between groups of liver cells called bile caniculi, which empty into bile ducts. From the bile ducts, bile drains into hepatic ducts, or exit tubes. Unless bile is needed immediately for digestion, it flows into the gallbladder.

Bile stays in the gall bladder until required for digestion. As food, especially fatty food, leaves the stomach and enters the duodenum a hormone called cholecystokinin is secreted. This hormone travels in the bloodstream to the gall bladder and makes its walls contract so that the stored bile is squeezed out.  The bile flows down to the common bile duct, which is also a tube, and through a narrow gap which allows the bile to pass into the small intestine.

Why is bile important?

Bile’s mineral salts, including bicarbonate, neutralise the acidity of the partially digested food. The role of the bile salts is to break down fats so the digestive enzymes can go to work. Bile salts also act as transporters further down the intestine firstly, enabling digested fats to transfer through the intestine wall and secondly, as carriers of vitamins A, D E and K.

The body is very conservative in its use of bile salts and recycles them as part of digestion. They are not destroyed after use but instead approximately 80-90 per cent are transported in blood back to the liver where they once again stimulate the secretion of more bile.

Bile contains the pigment bilirubin; a by-product of liver function. One of the liver’s many functions is to breakdown worn out red blood cells. As this happens, the red pigment haemoglobin splits and forms the pigment biliverdin. Biliverdin quickly converts to bilirubin, which is yellowish brown, and is the reason for bile’s colour. Bilirubin also encourages the intestine to work effectively, deodorises the faeces and contributes to the yellow colour of urine.

When the liver or gallbladder is not functioning correctly bilirubin accumulates in the blood and results in jaundice with the skin and whites of eyes looking yellow. Also, because not enough bile is reaching the intestine, faeces may be pale and greyish. Therefore jaundice and pale, greyish faeces are two symptoms that gallbladder function is not as it should be.

What are gallstones?

Even when bile production is normal other things can go wrong with the gallbladder. The most common of these is gallstones. Gallstones are small hard lumps of cholesterol, produced in the body by the breakdown of fats, which form in the gallbladder.

There are three kinds of gallstones.  The first, mixed stones are the most common. They contain a mix of the bile pigment biliverdin and cholesterol.  Mixed gallstones develop in clutches, up to 12 at a time. Secondly, cholesterol stones, as their name suggests, comprise mostly of cholesterol, grow up to 1.25cm in diameter and are large enough to block the common bile duct. The third, pigment stones are usually very small and occur in large numbers. They are made mostly of biliverdin, the green bile pigment. Pigment stones tend to form from illnesses affecting blood composition.

Gallstones are not automatically painful. Many people have gallbladder stones without being aware of them. However if a gallstone blocks the bile duct severe and repeated pain is probable. Depending on the severity and frequency of attacks, gallstones can be controlled with a healthy diet but may need surgery.

Am I having a Gall Bladder Attack?

If your gallbladder is not functioning correctly you may exhibit symptoms of a gallbladder attack. A gallbladder attack can last from 15 minutes to 15 hours and frequently occur at night with pain so severe it wakes the sufferer.  Ongoing attacks and symptoms may be a sign of gallbladder disease.


1.  Attacks often occur after overeating.

2.  Pain will often, but not always, follow a meal with a high fat content.

3.  Moderate to severe pain under the right side of the rib cage. Pain may radiate through to the back or to the right shoulder.

4.  Severe upper abdominal pain (also known as biliary colic).

5.  Sudden onset of pain.

6.  Deep inhalation worsens pain.

7.  Nausea and queasiness sometimes resulting in vomiting.

8.  Flatulence.

9.  Burping or belching. 

10.  Indigestion.

The frequency and severity of attacks may be lessened by modifying food intake, especially reducing fat intake. A healthy diet can be considered an ideal gallbladder diet and consists of large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables and a moderate intake of protein. It is also important to ensure a high water intake, ideally two litres per day.

To kickstart a diet that will promote a healthy gallbladder and lessen the chance of gallbladder attacks a gallbladder cleanse may be beneficial. A gallbladder cleanse will rejuvenate your taste buds and palette and leave you wanting to eat healthy nutritious foods which are kind on digestion.

Please note that if you are in severe pain and particularly if your attack symptoms are accompanied by fever DO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY. The above symptoms are typical of a gallbladder attack but may be caused by another medical condition.

“Owie Pillow!” Helps with Gallbladder Pain

What is the “Owie Pillow”? The “Owie Pillow” is used to relieve abdominal pressure caused by using a safety belt when driving. It can be used by any motorist but is especially helpful to pregnant women and those who may be suffering from abdominal injuries, wounds, recent surgery, or pain. When properly used, the pillow is placed between your abdomen and the seat belt. Additionally, this product can be used by almost anyone who simply wants a more comfortable ride. It may also be used in conjunction with seat belt usage on an aircraft.

How did the “Owie Pillow” evolve? Kristine Currier designed the pillow when she was pregnant with both of her children. During the first pregnancy, she experienced pressure/discomfort when driving; this led her to think about how to make herself more comfortable because she needed less pressure and more “room” for her rapidly expanding belly. During Kristine’s second pregnancy, the same problem reoccurred only this time she was muttering to herself “I cannot be the only person that finds the seatbelt uncomfortable” . . . and this is how the “Owie Pillow” became a reality.

Are there any other uses for the “Owie Pillow”? Yes, definitely — and here are a few:

Pregnant women





Bypass Surgery (using the smaller pillow vertically while being transported)

Children who have had abdominal surgery or just find the seatbelt uncomfortable. (the 16” pillow is the appropriate size for children)

People who spend lengthy amounts of time in a car (Sales Reps, long commuters, frequent flyers,etc.)

Airplanes — the pillow can be used with the seatbelt, or as lumbar support, or for taking a nap when placed upon your shoulder.

Dietary Supplements: For A Healthy Gall Bladder, Rely Upon Nature

When searching for nutritional support for the gall bladder, Health at Home has formulated the only science-based dietary supplement, featuring a natural softening agent, an amino acid bile stimulator, a mineral chelator and emulsifiers along with vitamin C. There is no formula like it.

Stop relying on traditional remedies like olive oil and lemon which are not substantiated by science. Gall Bladder Support provides mild ingredients to naturally promote gall bladder health.

Millions of Americans experience occasional gallbladder symptoms, such as a sharp knife-like pain under the lower right rib after eating, but have nothing to turn to short of surgery. To help maintain a healthy gall bladder, Health at Home’s Gall Bladder Support formula is ready to go into action. Also recommended after gall bladder removal.

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*This product has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.

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Gall Bladder Disorders

This x-ray shows a gallbladder [red pear shape] with many gallstones [green].
This x-ray shows a gallbladder [red pear shape] with many gallstones [green].

Gallstones are the most common and most well-known of the disorders affecting the gallbladder. However there are other diseases of the gallbladder that may be related to a failing gall bladder and often require surgery. Diagnosis of a gallbladder disease is relatively straightforward and involves the use of non-invasive technology such as ultrasound and blood tests. It is important that if gallstones or any gall bladder symptoms are suspected a doctor be consulted as soon as possible.


A gallstone is a solid crystal deposit that forms in the gallbladder, which is a pear-shaped organ that stores bile salts until they are needed to help digest fatty foods. Gallstones can migrate to other parts of the digestive tract and cause severe pain with life-threatening complications.

Gallstones vary in size and chemical structure. A gallstone may be as tiny as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Eighty per cent of gallstones are composed of cholesterol. They are formed when the liver produces more cholesterol than digestive juices can liquefy. The remaining 20% of gallstones are composed of calcium and an orange-yellow waste product called bilirubin. Bilirubin gives urine its characteristic color and sometimes causes jaundice.

Gallstones are caused by an alteration in the chemical composition of bile. Bile is a digestive fluid that helps the body to absorb fat. Gallstones tend to run in families. In addition, high levels of oestrogen, insulin or cholesterol can increase a person’s risk of developing gallstones.

Prevalence of Gallstones

Gallstones are the most common of all gallbladder problems. They are responsible for 90% of gallbladder and bile duct disease and are the fifth most common reason for hospitalization of adults in the United States. Gallstones usually develop in adults between the ages of 20 and 50 years; about 20% of patients with gallstones are over forty years of age. The risk of developing gallstones increases with age–at least 20% of people over 60 have a single large stone or as many as several thousand smaller ones. The gender ratio of gallstone patients changes with age. Young women are between two and six times more likely to develop gallstones than men in the same age group. In patients over 50years, the condition affects men and women with equal frequency. Native Americans develop gallstones more often than any other segment of the population; Mexican-Americans havethe second-highest incidence of this disease.

Pregnancy or the use of birth control pills can slow down gallbladder activity and increase the risk of gallstones. As can diabetes, pancreatitis, and celiac disease.

Types of Gallstones

Cholelithiasis is defined as the presence of gallstones within the gallbladder itself.

Choledocholithiasis is the presence of gallstones within the common bile duct that leads into the first portion of the small intestine (the duodenum). The stones in the duct may have been formed inside it or carried there from the gallbladder. These gallstones prevent bile from flowing into the duodenum. Ten per cent of patients with gallstones have choledocholithiasis, which is sometimes called common-duct stones. Patients who don’t develop infection usually recover completely from this disorder.

Disorders Often Treated by Gallbladder Surgery

Cholecystitis is a disorder marked by inflammation of the gallbladder. It is usually caused by the passage of a stone from the gallbladder into the cystic duct, which is a tube that connects the gallbladder to the common bile duct. In 5-10% of cases, however, Cholecystitis develops in the absence of gallstones. This form of the disorder is called Acalculous Cholecystitis. Cholecystitis causes painful enlargement of the gallbladder and is responsible for 10-25% of all gallbladder surgery. Chronic Cholecystitis is most common in the elderly. The acute form is most likely to occur in middle-aged adults.

Cholesterolosis, also known as cholesterol polyps, is characterized by deposits of cholesterol crystals in the lining of the gallbladder. This condition may be caused by high levels of cholesterol or inadequate quantities of bile salts and is usually treated by surgery.

Gallstone Ileus which results from a gallstone blocking the entrance to the large intestine and is most common in elderly people. Surgery usually cures this condition.

Stricture of the common bile duct develops in as many as 5% of patients whose gallbladders have been surgically removed. Stricture means narrowing. This condition is characterized by inability to digest fatty foods and by abdominal pain, which sometimes occurs in spasms. Patients with stricture of the common bile duct are likely to recover after appropriate surgical treatment.

Diagnosing Gallbladder Disease

Gallstones may be diagnosed by a family doctor, a gastroenterologist (a specialist in digestive problems], or a specialist in internal medicine. The doctor will first examine the patient’s skin for signs of jaundice and palpate (feel) the abdomen for soreness or swelling. After the basic physical examination, the doctor will order blood counts or blood chemistry tests to detect evidence of bile duct obstruction and to rule out other illnesses that cause fever and pain, including stomach ulcers, appendicitis, and heart attacks.

There are a number of imaging studies that identify gallbladder disease, but most gallstones will not show up on conventional x-rays. For gall stones to be detectable contrast agents are given by mouth and then excreted into the bile. The contrast agent will then be visible in the image.

Ultrasound is very useful and can be enhanced by administering it through an endoscope in the stomach. Ultrasound imaging has an accuracy rate of 96%. CT Scans (computed tomography scans) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans are not used routinely but are helpful in detecting common duct stones and complications.

Gallbladder disease including the most common, gallstones, causes significant discomfort and pain to the sufferer. The sufferer’s lifestyle especially diet patterns can be severely impacted causing at the very least inconvenience and possibly restricting daily activities. The diagnosis of gallstones and other gallbladder diseases allows for a medical care plan, sometimes, but not always involving gallbladder surgery, to be developed to relieve these symptoms, thus allowing the sufferer to return to pain-free lifestyle.

Cancer: From Diagnosis To All Clear In 11 Months.

Cancer: From Diagnosis To All Clear In 11 Months.
Glenn Johnsons Personal Story Of Victory Over Esophageal Cancer Without Surgery. This Book Includes His Medical Reports And The Nutritional Regime He Followed.
Cancer: From Diagnosis To All Clear In 11 Months.

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Digestive Wellness: How to Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion

Sixty percent of the population has suffered from a digestive ailment in the last three months. Acid reflux, heartburn, gastritis, ulcers, lactose intolerance, and food allergies are among the many ailments caused by faulty digestion. Digestive Wellness was designed to help you understand the complex relationships between gastrointestinal physiology, diet, and health.

Written by noted nutritionist Elizabeth Lipski, this accessible third edition of the popular resource has been thoroughly updated to reflect the latest information and research on digestive disorders. Here, you will find practical advice on implementing a wellness program to promote health and alleviate a wide range of problems caused by faulty digestion.

From the Back Cover
“If you seek to be more proactive and involved in your health care decisions, this well-written, understandable book is an important place to begin the process.”
–Doug Wilmore, M.D., and Judith Shabert, M.D., R.D., M.P.H.

Not only is faulty digestion directly responsible for a large number of gastrointestinal disorders, it can be indirectly responsible for a vast array of seemingly unrelated illnesses including arthritis, migraines, and auto-immune diseases.

In Digestive Wellness, clinical nutritionist Elizabeth Lipski explains how your digestive system works and what can happen when it experiences complications. She covers all the common gastrointestinal disorders and offers her expert guidance on the newest advances in testing and diagnosis, nutrition, and natural therapies, including detoxification and self-care options for more than thirty common conditions.

Identify and treat digestive complications such as:

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) • indigestion • gas bloating • constipation • celiac disease • hepatitis • inflammatory bowel diseases • and more

Digestive Wellness offers practical information that will guide you toward better health. This new edition is extensively updated to include:

New sections on hepatitis, cirrhosis, Barrett’s esophagus, and Behcet’s disease
The latest information on food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, probiotics, prebiotics, and the use of supplements and herbs
Advice on how healthy changes in diet and lifestyle can help you achieve a level of physical and emotional wellness you may have never experienced before

Former Medical Technician Gets Gallbladder Surgery in Mexico; WorldMed Assist Saves Him 70%

WorldMed Assist, a medical tourism company, found an affordable solution when Washington coast resident Allen Miller learned he needed his gallbladder removed.

When Allen Miller heard that gallbladder surgery was the solution to the abdominal pain he’d endured for two months, his resentment at being classified as uninsurable took on new life. Six years earlier, he’d quit a job with employer-provided health insurance, and discovered when trying to get his own private-pay plan, no one would cover him because he had Hepatitis C. When he learned his surgery, a cholecystectomy, would run at least ,000, he hit the Internet to learn how to become a medical tourist.

“I had friends who’d gone abroad for dental work, so I thought, ‘Why not see something of the world while having this surgery!’ I could afford to have the surgery in the U.S., but I knew I could get it done elsewhere for a lot less. I got on the computer, and right away found WorldMed Assist. I contacted them, and two weeks later, I was on a plane with my wife, headed for gallbladder surgery at Hospital Angeles in Tijuana, Mexico.” Miller had looked at options for the surgery in Belgium, Turkey and India, but because he and his wife run a Bed and Breakfast, they needed the shortest trip possible.

Both Miller and his wife recently retired from dual careers as medical technicians, so when WorldMed Assist set them up on a conference call with his surgeon, Dr. Jorge Zavala Ruiz, they knew what questions to ask. “That call was very helpful,” he said. “We got all the answers we needed and felt this was the right decision. The total cost for all my medical bill plus travel and hotel for my wife and me was around ,000–a savings of 70%. The price included a liver biopsy to get the latest information on my Hepatitis C situation.

“Not only was the cost of my surgery significantly lower, WorldMed Assist got us great rates on travel and lodging. When my wife researched plane tickets, the best deal she could find was 00 for two. WorldMed Assist got us both tickets for 0,” said Miller.

On May 5, the Millers flew to San Diego. A driver from Hospital Angeles picked them up at the airport and drove them across the border. “He spoke English well, and told us all about his family,” said Miller.

Miller was impressed with the hospital. Built just two years ago, everything was state of the art, and scrubbed and polished. He liked that every patient had a private luxury room.

The morning after his arrival, he was wheeled away for his gallbladder surgery and discharged two days later. “We were driven back across the border to check into a San Diego resort for three relaxing days before heading home,” he said.

Just two weeks after surgery, he reported in to WorldMed Assist, “I’m off to our cabin by Ranier National Park to go hiking. Boy, do I feel good about the experience.” His wife is now looking to have WorldMed Assist arrange cosmetic surgery in Mexico, again at Hospital Angeles. “Medical tourism is a good option for anyone who can’t get insurance,” Miller said. “Thanks to WorldMed Assist, I rolled the dice and got a seven.”

Applied Nutrition 14-day Acai Berry Cleanse

Applied Nutrition 14-Day Acai Berry Cleanse is scientifically formulated to cleanse your digestive tract and get rid of any excess matter that could be clogging your system. In just days, you can experience increased regularity, reduced bloating and a flatter abdomen.

This will help kick start that Gallbladder Diet. Check it out today!

Adoption of Laparoscopy Continues in Europe

Millennium Research Group (MRG), the global authority on medical technology market intelligence, finds that the European market for endoscopy devices, which includes laparoscopy, gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy, arthroscopy, visualization, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) endoscopy, and bronchoscopy represents a lucrative market for medical device suppliers. According to the new report entitled European Markets for Endoscopy Devices 2006, which includes analysis on France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, the market generated over .6 billion in 2005. While market dynamics in each country vary considerably due to government legislation, reimbursement changes, device introductions, and competitor actions, demand for less invasive procedures continues to rise throughout Europe.

Clinical results have substantially proven the benefits of minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques. Despite the fact that all four countries are facing mounting health care deficits, laparoscopic procedures, which have higher equipment costs, continue to be adopted due to the reduction in patient recovery and hospitalization times they offer. In many market segments, revenues are also being driven by demand for disposable rather than reusable devices. Disposables garner higher per-procedure revenues, eliminate the risk of cross-contamination, and offer more convenience. Overall, the laparoscopic device market will continue to grow through 2010, driven in particular by strong gains in the ultrasonic, bipolar, and hand-assisted device markets.

MRG’s European Markets for Endoscopy Devices 2006 report is part of the Global Markets Endoscopy series, which also includes analysis on the US and Japan. The series covers various key industry competitors, such as Ethicon Endo-Surgery (JNJ), Olympus (OCPNY), Tyco Healthcare, Karl Storz, Smith & Nephew (SNN), Boston Scientific (BSX), Cook Endoscopy, Fujinon, CONMED Corporation, and Stryker Endoscopy (SYK).

About Laparoscopy

Laparoscopic procedures are performed within the abdomen or pelvic cavity and offer several positive clinical benefits to patients and the health care system. During a procedure, a laparoscope is inserted through an abdominal incision for diagnosis, biopsy, or surgery. Laparoscopy procedures include cholecystectomy, bowel resection, hysterectomy, hernia repair, appendectomy, nephrectomy, female sterilization, and fundoplication, among others.

About Millennium Research Group

Millennium Research Group (, a Decision Resources, Inc. company (, is a leading provider of strategic information to the health care sector. Focused solely on the medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries, the company provides its clients with the benefits of its specialized industry expertise through published reports and customized consulting services.

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