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Gallstones

Also called: Cholelithiasis

Summary

Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ under your liver. It stores bile, a fluid made by your liver to digest fat. As your stomach and intestines digest food, your gallbladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct. The duct connects your gallbladder and liver to your small intestine.

Your gallbladder is most likely to give you trouble if something blocks the flow of bile through the bile ducts. That is usually a gallstone. Gallstones form when substances in bile harden. Gallstone attacks usually happen after you eat. Signs of a gallstone attack may include nausea, vomiting, or pain in the abdomen, back, or just under the right arm.

Gallstones are most common among older adults, women, overweight people, Native Americans and Mexican Americans.

Gallstones are often found during imaging tests for other health conditions. If you do not have symptoms, you usually do not need treatment. The most common treatment is removal of the gallbladder. Fortunately, you can live without a gallbladder. Bile has other ways to reach your small intestine.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Start Here

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Abdominal exploration - slideshow (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy) Also in

Treatments and Therapies

Related Issues

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in

Specifics

  • (American College of Gastroenterology) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in

Videos and Tutorials

  • Video (BroadcastMed) - Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC, 1/15/2009

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health

Women

  • (American College of Gastroenterology)

Patient Handouts

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