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Gallbladder Surgery


Updated June 25, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Diagnosis of Gallbladder Problems
Man with indigestion
Image Source/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The purpose of the gall bladder is to aid the digestion of food. The bile helps dissolve fat so that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream to provide nutrients to the body. The gallbladder stores bile, which is made in the liver for use in the digestion of food. Food, particularly fatty foods, trigger the release of bile from the gallbladder.

Symptoms of gall bladder problems include:

  • Bloating after eating
  • Fatty food intolerance
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Back pain
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Fever
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Pain under the right arm

Gall bladder (gallstone) attacks, which can be very painful, typically happen when a gallstone prevents bile from moving out of the gall bladder. They can even be mistaken for a heart attack, and vice versa. Never ignore symptoms that could be a heart attack, including left arm pain and chest pain.

Testing to confirm that the problem is indeed a gall bladder issue may include:

In most cases, the surgery is scheduled in advance, but in cases of severe inflammation, a gallbladder surgery may be performed urgently after diagnosis. Testing for gallbladder disease includes a physical exam, blood tests, and possible abdominal imaging that can detect the presence of gallstones and blockages.

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