1304 Somerville Rd.
Decatur, AL 35601
© 2011. Riverside Gastroenterology
1304 Somerville Rd., Decatur, AL 35601
Other Names: Cholecystitis; Choledocholithiasis; Bile duct stones
What is Gallbladder Disease?
Gallstones are small, hard deposits that can form in the gallbladder, a sac-like organ that lies under the liver on the right side of the abdomen. Most people with gallstones don't even know they have them. But in some cases a stone may cause the gallbladder to become inflamed, resulting in pain, infection, or other serious complications.
Bile and the Gallbladder
The formation of gallstones is a complex process that starts with bile, a fluid composed mostly of water, bile salts, lecithin (a fat known as a phospholipid), and cholesterol. Most gallstones are formed from cholesterol.
Bile is important for the digestion of fat. It is first produced by the liver and then secreted through tiny channels that eventually lead into a larger tube called the common bile duct, which leads to the small intestine.
Only a small amount of bile drains directly into the small intestine, however. Most flows into the gallbladder through the cystic duct, which is a side extension off the common bile duct. This system of ducts through which bile flows is called the biliary tree.