What is the Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is an organ located under the liver. The liver makes bile and the gallbladder stores the bile. Bile is a fluid that helps to digest food. When we eat, the gallbladder contracts and releases the bile through ducts that connect to your digestive system.
What is Gallbladder Disease?
Gallbladder disease occurs when your bile ducts become blocked and the bile is not able to flow from your liver into the digestive system.
Gallbladder disease can be caused by:
- Hardening of the bile leading to gallstones
- Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
- Congenital defects of the gallbladder
Gallbladder disease may be related to:
- A high fat diet or obesity
- Blood diseases including sickle cell anemia, hereditary spherocytosis and beta-thalassemia
- Certain medications including birth control pills
- Other medical conditions such as prematurity requiring prolonged IV nutrition
Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease in Children:
- Pain in the right upper or middle upper part of the abdomen that is sharp, dull, or cramping and can spread to the back between the shoulder blades especially after eating a meal
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fever, chills, or sweats
- Jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes)
What Test can be Done to Diagnose Gallbladder Disease?
- Blood tests
- Ultrasound to look at the gallbladder
- A specialized MRI test called magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) to get detailed images of the bile ducts
- Gallbladder ejection fraction study called hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan which shows how well the gallbladder is functioning
What Should I do if I Suspect My Child has Gallbladder Disease?
- Contact your child’s physician to discuss your concern and to have your child evaluated
- There are currently no reliable medicines to make gallbladder disease go away
- Avoid greasy and high fat foods since they often aggravate the pain