The Gallbladder

The Gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped pouch about 5 to 10 cm long. It is tucked just under the liver, below the right rib cage and is connected to the intestine and liver by small tubes called bile ducts.

Bile ducts carry bile, a yellow-green fluid produced by your liver. The liver makes about 500mls of bile per day. Bile contains water, cholesterol, phospholipids and chemicals to aid digestion (bile acids), as well as waste products for excretion via the bowel, such as bilirubin.

Bile is collected and stored in the gallbladder. When food reaches the stomach a hormone is released by the stomach wall which causes the gallbladder to squeeze and the valve at the lower end of your common bile duct to open. In this way bile is pushed out into the duodenum (first part of your intestine) to mix with your food as it leaves the stomach.

It plays a central role in helping the body digest fat. Bile acts as a detergent, breaking up the fat from food in your gut into very small droplets, so that it can be absorbed. It also makes it possible for your body to take up the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the food passing through your gut.

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