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Gallbladder Complications

Some of the complications that may result from gallstones are;

Obstruction Of The Common Bile Duct:

The duct that extends from the gallbladder to the small intestine is known as the common bile duct. When this duct is obstructed, it can eventually lead to jaundice and also cause abdominal pain and discomfort. Other complications such as Cholecystitis ( inflammation of the gallbladder ) and Cholangitis ( bile duct infection ) may also occur as a result of bile duct obstruction.

Inflammation Of The Gallbladder:

This condition is also known as cholecystitis and occurs when there is a blockage of the bile duct by a gallstone. The condition is characterized by secretion of fluid from the gallbladder followed by inflammation. One may also experience pain in the upper abdominal region as well as fever and abdominal tenderness. Treatment for cholecystitis is usually given through antibiotics and the condition will usually resolve within a week.


Due to the inflammation caused in cholecystitis, blood supply to the gallbladder may be cut off. With no blood flowing into the gallbladder, its tissues will soon die and hence weaken the surrounding walls.The weakness caused by lack of blood supply may eventually lead to rupture of the gallbladder. This condition is known as gangrene.


When the junction of the bile duct and pancreatic duct is blocked by a gallstone, it can cause an inflammation of the pancreas. This is known as pancreatitis. A person affected with pancreatitis may experience pain in the upper abdomen, back and even the chest. This may also be accompanied by vomiting and fever. Pancreatitis will usually resolve in a couple of days if the condition is mild but if it is severe it can even be deadly.


If bacteria present in the gallbladder enters into the bloodstream, it can spread to other parts of the body through the blood. This can lead to the infection of healthy tissues followed by the formation of pus filled abscesses. Sepsis is characterized by  fever, chills and elevated white blood cell count.

Gallbladder Cancer:

Cancer of the gallbladder is a very rare complication and is seen in less than 1% of people diagnosed with gallstones. Researchers are not sure whether gallstones are the cause of gallbladder cancer but it is believed that gallstones reduce the quantity of bile output from the gallbladder and hence the cells are exposed to cancer causing substances present in the bile for an extended period of time. This is turn could lead to gallbladder cancer.

Next read about gallstones treatment

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