What is Gallstones
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
Gallstones are solid particles that form within the gallbladder. Gallstones form from a liquid substance called bile.
Bile is mostly made up of water, salts, cholesterol, and lecithin. The liver makes bile and the gallbladder is the organ that stores it for later use. During digestion, bile is secreted into the small intestine to help with the breakdown of fat.
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
If the concentration of bile changes, particles can develop out of the liquid bile. The particles form solids called gallstones. Gallstones are most often made up of cholesterol particles in 85% of the cases.
Gallstones often go unnoticed, but sometimes they can turn into potentially serious conditions that may require care from your doctor.
Gallstones are the most common cause of gastrointestinal complications in the US. About 15-20 million people are affected by them.
Gallstones occur more often in women than men. Roughly 20% of females and 5% of males develop them. Symptomatic gallstones occur more often in pregnant women. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy. Roughly 500,000 of these surgeries are done each year in the US.