Q:

What is the function of the gallbladder?

A:

Quick Answer

The gallbladder's function is to store bile produced by the liver and release the bile into the small intestine during digestion in order to neutralize acids and break down fats. The fat in the digested food enters the small intestine, releasing cholecystokinin and triggering the gallbladder to release bile via the common bile duct.

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Full Answer

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped pouch that is located underneath the liver. According to Healthline, eating too much fatty foods can result in the accumulation of cholesterol, bilirubin and bile salts, forming gallstones. When the gallstones block the bile duct, a surgery requiring the removal of the gallbladder is often required to treat the gallstones.

Otherwise healthy people can live without a gallbladder because the bile that the gallbladder normally stores can be rerouted and directly released into the small intestine, notes Everyday Health. Harvard Medical School notes that an individual without a gallbladder loses digestive efficiency since the amount of bile in the intestine is decreased once the storage capacity of the gallbladder is gone. Patients who have undergone gallbladder removal surgery commonly experience frequent bowel movements and may need to change their diets to avoid eating fatty foods. WebMD points out there is a small risk of diarrhea and fat malabsorption in individuals without a gallbladder.

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