Gallbladder is a small organ positioned just beneath the liver. This is a hollow organ that measures about 3.1 inches in length and around 1.6 inches in diameter, when fully distended. In humans, gallbladder aids mainly in fat digestion and concentrates bile, yellowish brown fluid produced by the liver. In a healthy adult individual, gallbladder can store about 50 milliliters of bile. Bile is from here released into the duodenum when food containing fat enters the digestive tract. The goal is to stimulate the secretion of cholecystokinin and emulsify fats in partly digested food. Even though this function may seem to be significant, people generally the loss of gallbladder easily. Gallbladder is sometimes surgically removed due to the various health problems. One of the most frequent health problems with the gallbladder is chronic inflammation, also known as cholecystitis.
Chronic gallbladder disease
Chronic gallbladder disease is caused by the presence of choleliths, or gallstones in the bladder. Gallstones are crystalline concretion formed by accretion of bile components. These concretions are formed within the bladder but they may occasionally pass into other parts of the biliary tract (cystic duct, common bile duct, pancreatic duct, or the ampulla of Vater). The gallstones can block the cystic duct and cause infection. In most cases, the thickening of the bile occurs, and provides suitable environment for secondary infections. Most commonly, the infections are caused by E. coli and Bacteroides species. When the gallbladder wall becomes inflamed it irritates even the surrounding tissues, such as diaphragm and bowel. In severe cases, the necrosis of the tissue, or rupture, may also occur.
Another type of chronic gallbladder disease is characterized by constant low-level inflammation which gradually leads to calcification and fibrosis of the gallbladder.
Symptoms of gallbladder disease
Gallbladder disease usually presents as a pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. The pain is usually constant and very severe. Some patients may feel pain only after eating greasy or fatty foods, and experience the pain together with low-grade fever, abdominal upset, vomiting, and nausea and feels tenderness when the pressure is applied to the upper right abdomen. Chronic cholecystitis manifests with symptoms such as nausea, vague abdominal pain, belching, and diarrhea. These symptoms may also indicate presence of some other disease, and require medical attention. In more severe cases, gallbladder diseases will manifest in high fever, shock and jaundice, which may point to the possible complications, perforations of the gallbladder, or formation of abscesses.