The digestive system is made up of many organs that help in the digestion of food. One of these is a pear-shaped organ lying on the liver's surface commonly called the gallbladder. The gallbladder, which functions as a storage place for bile, the green substance produced by the liver, has three general parts. These include the body of gallbladder, the neck, and the fundus. It is in the body of gallbladder where bile is mostly stored before it is used for the digestion of fats in the small intestines.
Another part is the fundus, which is the closed portion or end section of the gallbladder. The gallbladder's neck is the narrow part that opens into the cystic duct, a tube-like structure where bile passes down before it eventually reaches the small intestines. In the body of gallbladder, bile is also made more concentrated. It can hold approximately 0.67 fluid ounces (20 milliliters) to 1.69 fluid ounces (50 milliliters) of bile. From the fundus to its neck, the gallbladder measures about 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 centimeters).
One common condition of the gallbladder is the formation of gallbladder stones, also referred to as gallstones. These stones are are generally made up of bile, cholesterol, and calcium. Many individuals with gallstones may show no symptoms at all. Others may experience upper abdominal pain, nausea, and belching that may come and go, especially after a fatty meal.
Those at increased risk for developing gallstones are obese individuals who are over 40 years of age. Women are also more often afflicted than men. Some conditions also associated with the formation of stones in the body of gallbladder include diabetes and other disorders that cause elevated cholesterol levels in the blood.
A gallstone can sometimes get lodged in the neck of the gallbladder, or go down to a bigger duct called the common bile duct (CBD). The CBD delivers bile and other substances to the small intestines. Some stones may pass through without any symptoms. In many cases, however, the stone can get stuck in the area and cause severe abdominal pain and jaundice, the yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes.
Through an ultrasound test, stones in the body of gallbladder or those stuck in the common bile duct are detected. Surgery is frequently needed to remove not just the body of gallbladder, but the entire gallbladder. If stones are blocking the CBD, these are also removed as well.