How Does the Gallbladder Work?

The gallbladder is a small organ underneath the liver that supports digestion. Its main functions are to: (vii.131-134)

  • Store bile, a substance used to digest the fats in the foods we eat.
  • Help get rid of certain body waste products that are large molecules (such as bilirubin).
Gallbladder Biliary System

Figure VII.5: The Gallbladder and Biliary System

Bile is produced by liver cells and stored in concentrated form in the gall bladder. After a meal is ingested, parts of the intestine secrete a hormone called cholecystokinin that signals the gallbladder to contract and release bile into the small intestine. (vii.131-134)

This hormone also regulates the contractions of the stomach. It gives the small intestine and gallbladder time to digest fats before the stomach releases more into the intestines. When the bile duct in the gallbladder becomes obstructed with gall bladder stones, it can cause inflammation and possible infection. (vii.131-134)

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