Gallbladder Polyps

Polyps in the gallbladder are growths that stick out from the inside lining of the gallbladder.

Why do they form?

Most of the polyps are benign and come from buildup of cholesterol or normal, healthy cells. Some polyps can be small tumors which are benign, but some can be pre-cancerous tumors. The size of the polyp helps predict its risk of being a pre-cancerous polyp.

What are the symptoms?

Most patients do not have symptoms from gallbladder polyps. Some patients can have symptoms that are similar to gallstones such as abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting. 

How are they diagnosed?

Polyps can be seen on imaging studies such as ultrasound or CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan.

What is the treatment?

The treatment depends on several factors including the polyp size, the presence of gallstones and whether the patient has any symptoms. If the polyp is over 1 cm, associated with gallstones or symptoms, then the entire gallbladder should be removed with gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy). If the patient does not have symptoms from the polyp and it is less than 1 cm in size, then the patient should have future ultrasound studies to make sure it is not increasing in size. Patients do not need to be admitted to the hospital for gallbladder polyps. The gallbladder removal surgery can be done as an elective outpatient procedure. Medication does not treat gallbladder polyps.