Things to know about the gallbladder


Here you can learn more about the gallbladder, its functions and tasks, gallbladder diseases and corresponding treatments.


What is the function of the gallbladder?


Gallbladder with liver, stomach and intestine

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located below the liver in the upper right part of the abdomen. It collects the bile (bile fluid) produced in the liver, which is around 500 ml per day.

When food enters the small intestine, the digestive hormone cholecystokinin is released, which causes the bile to pass from the gallbladder into the small intestine.

Bile helps to digest fats.If production is too low or if the excretory ducts are obstructed by gallstone or gallstone, the fats are insufficiently digested, which inevitably leads to discomfort.

The gallbladder is generally not an essential organ of our body.


When do I need to have the gallbladder removed?


There are several gallbladder diseases, but they are usually caused by gallstones:




Small, hard deposits inside the gallbladder that form when collected bile crystallises. Usually harmless, but can cause pain, nausea and inflammation. Palpable symptoms usually only develop when the bile duct reaches a certain size or becomes blocked. Treatment is by surgical removal (cholecystectomy).


Cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation)


Inflammation of the gallbladder, usually caused by gallstones. Expresses itself, among other things, by severe pain in the upper abdomen, fever, nausea or sweating. If the inflammation is severe, removal of the gallbladder with the gallstones is necessary; successful treatment usually involves medication and bed rest.


Cancer of the gallbladder


A very rare, as yet unexplained form, although a link with gallstones has been established. Palpable symptoms usually only occur in advanced disease status. If the tumour growth is limited to the gallbladder ducts, surgery is possible.


Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)


Usually caused by gallstones or alcohol. Expresses itself as sudden, severe pain in the upper abdomen combined with symptoms of nausea, fever and circulatory problems. If gallstones are the cause, they may need to be removed along with the gallbladder.


How is life without a gallbladder?


Gallbladder with and without gallstone

Removing the gallbladder has no significant effect on the production of bile, which is still available for digestion. So is the gallbladder a superfluous organ?

Definitely not! The gallbladder itself is not responsible for production, but it does serve as a kind of catch basin for the fluid. If this is lost, a large amount can no longer be released into the small intestine, but only the amount that the liver can produce.

As a result, the supporting function for digestion is limited to a certain extent.


In concrete terms, this means:

    • a large proportion of people feel no effects in terms of diet

after gallbladder surgery.

    • few people have fundamentally intact digestion but have problems with large, high-fat meals
    • very few people have general problems with digestion


If a certain, often flatulent food is not tolerated, this manifests itself some time after the operation through complaints such as flatulence, abdominal pain or diarrhoea. The technical term for this is postcholecystectomy syndrome (post = after, chole = bile, cyst = bladder, ectomy = removal, syndrome = symptom complex).


Nutritional problems after gallbladder surgery


As explained in the previous section, the complaints can be explained by the fact that there is not enough bile for fat digestion. Since there may be other, more serious causes for the syndrome, it is important to consult a doctor.

For successful treatment, medicinal plants that strengthen the bile function are suitable, especially artichoke. Taking it in the form of a preparation before meals can make the symptoms disappear.

First and foremost, it is important to adjust the diet. This means:


    • Smaller meals spread out over the day
    • reduce/avoid fatty foods



Recommended foods Foods to avoid
Lean meats (turkey, chicken, poultry sausage) Fatty meats (sausage, salami, cold cuts)
Low-fat dairy products (skimmed quark and milk, fresh cheese) High-fat dairy products (milk, butter, curd)
Low-fat potato products (baked or jacket potatoes) High-fat potato products (chips, fried potatoes, potato pancakes)
Gardened/steamed vegetables Nuts
Fruit Chocolate
Lean fish (cod, pollock, pike) Fat fish (eel, herring, tuna)
Sufficient water or tea Alcohol


Gain in weight after gallbladder removed?


Some sufferers worry that they will have to put up with weight gain after gallbladder removal. Likewise, exactly the opposite is conceivable – a weight loss. There are simple explanations for this:


  1. Gain in weight: Due to the gallbladder complaints, food intake was severely restricted before the operation, which affected the metabolism. Weight may even have been lost. After the operation and the eliminated complaints, the yo-yo effect follows, which, however, can be prevented with one’s own will: controlled eating, even if the craving is still so great.
  2. Weight loss: Digestive complaints force the person affected to restrict food intake or the digestion (and in the course of this the metabolism) functions properly again, which was not the case before the operation.


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