09/14/2009 - Questions and Answers

Is your gall bladder necessary?

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Question

What happens after the removal of the gallbladder? In other words, what takes on the role of the gallbladder after the surgery?

 

Answer

The job of the gall bladder is to store and concentrate bile. However, the body can function adequately without it if certain dietary precautions are observed. When stones form, gall bladder function is impaired, and though stones can be removed without taking out the gall bladder, the remaining diseased gall bladder can cause further stone formation and symptoms.
 

It's not uncommon to have temporary digestive difficulties after gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy). The main reason is usually a difficulty in handling fats in the diet. Fat and certain fat-soluble vitamins require bile in order to be absorbed. When the gallbladder is present, it stores bile that the liver makes. During a meal, the gallbladder contracts, releasing a pool of bile into the intestine that is used for fat absorption.
 

After cholecystectomy, bile is still produced by the liver, but is released in a continuous, slow trickle into the intestine. Thus, when eating a meal that is high in fat content, there may not be an adequate amount of bile in the intestine to properly handle the normal absorption process. The change in intestinal bile concentration during high-fat intake may cause diarrhea or bloating, because excess fat in the intestine will draw more water into the intestine, and because bacteria digest the fat and produce gas. Some studies suggest that diarrhea after cholecystectomy may also be caused by excess bile in the intestine between meals, because bile is released into the intestine continuously.
 

After cholecystectomy, you should begin with clear liquids, once passing gas progress to full liquids (milk based, soups, pudding, etc.). You may then advance slowly to a regular diet as tolerated. Loose stools initially are not uncommon. No long-term dietary restrictions or changes will be required (most people do better without their gallbladder). Learn for yourself what foods you cannot tolerate and omit them fr5om your diet, which preferable should be a low in fat. But reintroduce foods slowly and little at a time. Remember, the key is to eat what you can tolerate.

You can read more about all this in the Health Center: Bladder Problems.

Related Article:

Bladder Problems

 

Created on: 12/03/2003
Reviewed on: 09/14/2009

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