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Gallbladder

The organ that stores the bile made in the liver and that is connected to the liver by bile ducts. The gallbladder can store about 2 tablespoons of bile. Eating signals the gallbladder to empty the bile through the bile ducts to help the body digest fats. NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Anatomy of the gallbladder; shows the liver, common hepatic duct, cystic duct, common bile duct, pancreas, and small intestine. The inset shows the liver, bile ducts, gallbladder, pancreas, and small intestine. Click to enlarge

The gallbladder and nearby organs National Institutes of Health

How Does the Gallbladder Work?

The gallbladder is a thin-walled, pear-shaped pouch. It is about 7 to 10 centimeters (about 2.7 to 3.9 inches) long, up to 5 centimeters (about 2 inches) across at its widest point, and is located in an indentation under the liver. The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile from the liver. The bile then helps to digest and absorb fats from food in the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine.

Every day the cells of the liver produce about 800 to 1,000 milliliters (about 27 to 34 fluid ounces) of yellow, brownish or olive-green bile. The liver cells then pass the bile on through small canals to the bile duct, which leads from the lower surface of the liver into the duodenum. After about 4 to 6 centimeters (about 1.6 to 2.4 inches), a small duct leading to the gallbladder branches off of the larger bile duct before it connects to the intestine.

The bile produced by the liver flows... Read more about the Gallbladder

Terms to know

Bile Ducts
Tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage and to the small intestine for use in digestion.
Biliary Tract
The organs and ducts that make and store bile (a fluid made by the liver that helps digest fat), and release it into the small intestine. The biliary tract includes the gallbladder and bile ducts inside and outside the liver. Also called biliary system.
Common Bile Duct
The tube that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine.
Common Hepatic Duct
A tube that carries bile from the liver. It starts where the right and left hepatic (liver) ducts join outside the liver. It ends where the cystic duct from the gallbladder joins it to form the common bile duct. It is part of the biliary duct system.
Cystic Duct
The tube that carries bile from the gallbladder into the common bile duct.
Liver
The largest abdominal organ. The liver carries out many important functions, such as making important blood proteins and bile, changing food into energy, and cleaning alcohol and poisons from the blood.
Pancreas
An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.
Small Intestine
The organ where most digestion occurs. It measures about 20 feet and includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

Related conditions

Terms to know

Bile Ducts
Tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage and to the small intestine for use in dig...
Biliary Tract
The organs and ducts that make and store bile (a fluid made by the liver that helps digest fat), and release...
Common Bile Duct
The tube that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine....
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