Understanding Gallbladder Anatomy and Physiology

The Gallbladder’s Anatomy

The gallbladder is a large, pear-shaped membranous sac (hollow structure) located directly under the liver. It retains and concentrates bile generated by the liver, which is necessary for fat digestion.

It has a volume of 30-50 ml, is 2-3 cm broad, 7-10 cm long, and is dark green in colour in humans. On average, it weighs roughly 300 grammes.

When fat-containing food enters the digestive system, the upper sections of the intestine secrete cholecystokinin, which induces the gallbladder to discharge bile into the small intestine through a network of tubes known as ducts.

The gallbladder is not a necessary organ and you may survive without it since it just stores bile generated by the liver and does not make bile itself. Gallbladder illnesses and gallstones are commonly removed by a surgical operation known as cholecystectomy.

Following gallbladder removal, bile continues to flow into the gut from the liver, causing diarrhoea in some patients.

Gallbladder organs (gallbladder anatomy)

The gallbladder is a muscular sac that is separated into three regions.

  • The Foundation
  • The human body
  • The throat

What is the fundus of the gallbladder?

The fundus is the bottom section of the gallbladder that protrudes anteriorly from underneath the liver. The body section, which is positioned between the fundus and the cystic duct, is the primary dilated component of the gallbladder.

The neck of the gallbladder tapers and links to the biliary tree through the cystic duct, which joins the hepatic duct to form the common bile duct.

The gallbladder wall histology

The gallbladder wall has numerous layers, which are as follows (from inside out):

The mucous membrane

It is the innermost surface and is composed of a single layer of columnar epithelial cells that release mucus and absorb water, followed by lamina propia, a connective tissue that supports the epithelium.

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Propia Muscularis

It is made up of smooth muscle fibres that contract to discharge bile from the gallbladder.

Layer underneath the epidermis

It is mostly composed of connective tissue and serves to reinforce the gallbladder wall.


It is the topmost layer and covers the gallbladder on the bottom. It has epithelial cells that release a liquid that avoids friction between the gallbladder and other organs nearby.

More information: Gallstones: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Risks, Treatment, and Complications

Gallbladder blood and nerve supply

The cystic artery, a branch of the right hepatic artery, supplies oxygenated blood to the gallbladder, while the cystic vein drains deoxygenated blood.

The blood is drained into the portal vein via the cystic vein. Lymph flows into cystic lymph nodes, which eventually empty into hepatic or celiac lymph nodes.

The gallbladder is fed by sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system nerves that emerge from the celiac plexus in the belly, the vagus nerve, and the right phrenic nerve.

Gallbladder Function: What functions does the gallbladder serve? What role does the gallbladder play in your body?
The gallbladder is a component of the biliary system, and its major role is to facilitate digestion. Gallbladder serves primarily to:

  • The liver generates bile, which is stored and concentrated.
  • In the duodenum, the initial segment of the small intestine, muscular contractions of its wall produce this bile in response to neuronal and hormonal variables induced by meals, particularly fatty ones.

Gallbladder location: Where is the gallbladder located?

The gallbladder is located in the shallow gallbladder fossa (a depression on the underside of the liver, between the quadrate and right lobes on the liver’s visceral surface). Connective tissue connects the capsule covering the liver to the hepatic surface of the gallbladder.

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The gallbladder is placed near the 9th cost cartilage in the right upper abdominal quadrant. The gallbladder fundus protrudes anteriorly from the inferior margin of the liver. The liver, abdominal wall, transverse colon, and duodenum are all organs that come into touch with the gallbladder.

What is the weight of a gallbladder with and without stones?

The typical weight of a normal gallbladder without stones is 300-400 grammes. If you have gallstones in your gallbladder, the weight will be determined by the quantity and size of the stones.

Because a gallstone might be as little as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball, the weight of the gallbladder containing stones will vary proportionally.

Gallbladder Health: Gallbladder Diseases and Gallbladder Problems:

Even though it is a minor non-vital organ, gallbladder health is critical. The following are some of the most frequent gallbladder disorders and problems:

  • Gallstones/Cholelithiasis are solid masses of cholesterol that form in the gallbladder.
  • Choledocholithiasis is the production of gallstones in the bile duct.
  • Gallbladder inflammation/cholecystitis – gallbladder irritation that causes edoema and infection.
  • Perforated gallbladder – untreated gallstone deposition may result in a hole in the organ’s wall and infection.
  • Infection of the bile duct – A bile duct obstruction might result in serious infection.
  • Gallbladder dysfunction – recurrent gallstone attacks may permanently destroy the gallbladder.
  • Gallstone ileus is an uncommon but dangerous migration of gallstones to the gut.
  • Gallbladder abscess – the formation of pus combined with gallstones may cause significant abdominal discomfort.
  • Gallbladder made of porcelain – calcium deposition over time may harden the gallbladder walls, making them rigid. It raises the chances of acquiring gallbladder cancer.
  • Gallbladder polyps are noncancerous growths seen in the gallbladder. A bigger polyp must be surgically removed before it may do any harm.
  • Gallbladder cancer is uncommon, but if undiagnosed and untreated, it may swiftly spread beyond the gallbladder.
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Gallbladder tests are used to diagnose gallbladder disease.

The following are some gallbladder tests used to identify gallbladder issues and diseases:

Ultrasound of the abdomen

It is a non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to examine the gallbladder wall.

HIDA examination (cholescintigraphy)

It’s a nuclear medicine test. Intravenously, a radioactive tracer is infused and secreted into the bile.

ERCP stands for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

In this test, a flexible tube is introduced via the mouth, stomach, and small intestine. A doctor may see the biliary system ducts via the catheter and put dye into them. During an ERCP operation, this test may be performed to treat gallstones.

Cholangiopancreatography using magnetic resonance imaging (MRCP)

An MRI scanner is utilised in this examination to provide high-resolution pictures of the bile ducts, pancreas, and gallbladder. These photos aid in the development of a therapy plan.

Ultrasound via the endoscope

A small ultrasonic probe linked to one end of a flexible tube is introduced into the intestines via the mouth. The gadget aids in the detection of gallstone pancreatitis.

X-ray of the abdomen

Gallstones are detected using these X-rays.

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