Common Gallbladder Problems



Stones in the gallbladder are a common problem that affects about 30% of the U.S. population. They can cause pain known as biliary colic which is usually on the right side, back or mid-abdomen. This pain can be worse after eating and associated with nausea, vomiting, indigestion and belching.  In addition to pain, gallstones can also cause other complications which are discussed below.



This is an infection of the gallbladder that is most commonly caused by an obstruction of the cystic duct. Patients with cholecystitis are usually admitted to the hospital. This is usually treated with antibiotics and gallbladder removal for healthy patients. Pain, nausea, vomiting and fever are common symptoms.



This is when a patient has gallstones in the common bile duct. This can cause a blockage of bile flow and lead to infection and jaundice. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital for this problem. The stones usually need to be removed from the common bile duct with a separate procedure before gallbladder removal surgery. Patients may have pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, yellowing of skin or eyes or change in the color of the stool.


Biliary PAncreatitis

This is inflammation of the pancreas caused by a gallstone. Patients typically have significant abdominal pain. While the pancreas is inflammed, patients are admitted to the hospital for IV fluids and sometimes antibiotics. Sometimes a separate procedure is needed to get out stones that are stuck near the pancreas. Gallbladder removal surgery is usually performed for healthy patients after the pancreas inflammation is better.



Biliary Dyskinesia

This is when there is a problem with the squeezing function of the gallbladder. This can lead to many of the same symptoms as gallstones such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloating. Usually a special test called a HIDA scan is needed to diagnosis this problem. Gallbladder removal surgery usually helps stop the pain from this problem. 


Gallbladder Polyps

Polyps are growths that come from the inner lining of the gallbladder. Most of these are harmless but some can be cancerous growths. The size of the polyp helps predict if it's cancerous. If a polyp is large, causing symptoms or associated with gallstones, then the gallbladder should be removed with surgery.