Gallbladder disease is very common. It refers to a number of conditions that affect your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is that small pouch that sits just under your liver. This small organ stores bile, the liquid produced and released by the liver for digesting fats.

What are the different types of gallbladder disease?
There are several types of diseases that affect your gallbladder. This includes:

• Gallstones
Also known as cholelithiasis, gallstones are hardened deposits that develop from substances in the bile or substances from the blood. They usually develop as a result of the gallbladder not emptying completely or often enough.

These hardened deposits can be as small as a grain of sand to as big as a golf ball. Usually, you won’t be aware that you have them until you start having pains as a result of these gallstones blocking the bile duct.

• Cholecystitis
Cholecystitis refers to the swelling of the gallbladder. It usually occurs as a result of the bile getting trapped in the gallbladder. It can happen for several reasons like gallstones blocking the bile duct, bacterial infection in the bile duct system, and tumors in the pancreas.

• Acalculous gallbladder disease
Acalculous gallbladder disease refers to the inflammation of the gallbladder without the presence of gallstones. Symptoms of this disease are very similar to acute cholecystitis with gallstones.

• Biliary dyskinesia
Biliary dyskinesia can occur when the gallbladder has lower than normal functioning. This is often associated with gallbladder inflammation and may cause abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, and indigestion.

• Sclerosing cholangitis
When the inflammation of gallbladder is unmanaged, it can lead to further inflammation and consequently, scarring of the bile duct system. This condition is called sclerosing cholangitis.

• Gallbladder cancer
Cancer of the gallbladder is a rare condition. This is often difficult to diagnose until the late stage of the disease.

Having gallstones is a common risk factor for gallbladder cancer.

What are the symptoms of gallbladder disease?
Signs and symptoms of gallbladder disease can vary, depending on the type and the severity of the condition.

The following are the most common symptoms of gallbladder disease:

• Pain felt in the mid- to the upper right section of the abdomen
• Nausea or vomiting
• Fever or chills
• Chronic diarrhea (having more than four bowel movements per day)
• Jaundice
• Unusual stool or urine (lighter-colored stool or darker-colored urine)

When to seek help
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to see a health care specialist as soon as possible.

During your consultation, your doctor will ask about your medical history and may perform an abdominal exam. He/she may also recommend imaging tests such as x-rays, ultrasound, and CT, MRI, and HIDA scan.

How is gallbladder disease treated?
Cholecystectomy, a surgical removal of the gallbladder is usually the recommended treatment when it becomes inflamed or infected, causes inflammation of the pancreas, the gallbladder wall has calcified, and when the gallbladder condition is causing ongoing pain.

If the inflammation is not as severe, your doctor may recommend a laparoscopic repair, a minimally invasive procedure.

Gallbladder removal is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States. The board-certified surgeons of Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville and Cleveland, TN have years of experience surgically treating gallbladder disease. Our team will discuss your surgical treatment options with you and determine which method is best for you.

To request an appointment with a Premier Surgical physician at any of the 5 East Tennessee hospitals we serve, please visit this link.