The gallbladder, a small sac located under the liver, stores and concentrates bile created by the liver. This bile aids in the digestion of food. When the gallbladder becomes blocked by gallstones, the bile it stores gets blocked in the bile ducts and causes pain and inflammation. This is gallbladder disease.
Gallstones affect 15% of people throughout their lifetime; however, only 20% of those who develop gallstones will end up contracting gallbladder disease. Several factors are used to determine how likely a person is to end up with gallbladder disease. Some factors include a high cholesterol diet, being overweight or obese, being over the age of 60, and having a family history of gallbladder disease. Symptoms of gallbladder disease fall into a few different categories depending on the nature of the symptoms: biliary colic, acute cholecystitis, and chronic cholecystitis.
Gallbladder disease can cause disruption to everyday life due to the intensity of the pain felt from it, as well as the buildup of bile in the blood that often makes the patient sick. The easiest way to treat gallbladder disease is by removing the gallbladder completely through surgery, which can be done in a minimally invasive procedure known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. People without a gallbladder can live a normal life and digest foods normally, as the surgeon will redirect the bile ducts in the liver into the small intestine directly rather than bile passing through the gallbladder. Doctors will recommend avoiding fatty foods for a while, but most people are able to resume a normal but healthy diet after a few months of recovery.