Gallbladder Disease

Gallbladder disease refers to any of the various medical conditions that can affect your gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ located beneath your liver that stores bile. 

The most common symptom of gallbladder disease is pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. Depending on the type of disease, a person may also experience fever, nausea, vomiting, and/or jaundice. Diseases that affect the bile duct are also lumped under the term gallbladder disease.

There are generally two options when treating gallstones—a "watch and wait" approach or surgery. Other gallbladder or bile duct problems may require a more specialized procedure called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the symptoms of gallbladder disease?

    The most common symptom of gallbladder disease is pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, where the gallbladder is located. Depending on the type of gallbladder disease, symptoms may also include fever, nausea, vomiting, and/or jaundice.

  • What causes gallbladder disease?

    Gallstones form as a result of too much cholesterol or bilirubin (a pigment that is made in the liver when red blood cells are broken down), which are the most common causes of gallbladder disease. Having high cholesterol is one of the risk factors for developing gallstones.

  • How is gallbladder disease diagnosed?

    Your doctor will do a physical exam and blood tests if you are having symptoms that suggest gallbladder disease. An abdominal ultrasound is key to the diagnostic process. Sometimes other imaging tests, such as a CT scan or a HIDA scan, are necessary as well.

  • Is gallbladder disease hereditary?

    Research has indicated that there may be a genetic link, as the tendency to develop gallstones and gallbladder disease often runs in families. A mutation in a gene that controls the movement of cholesterol from the liver to the bile duct has also been identified, possibly leading to an increased risk of gallstones.

  • Can you have gallbladder disease without gallstones?

    Yes. When a person has normal blood tests, without evidence of inflammation or liver problems, as well as a normal ultrasound of the gallbladder with no evidence of gallstones, this is called functional gallbladder disorder.

Key Terms
Infant with jaundice in neonatal intensive care unit
Kasai Procedure: Preparation, Recovery, Long-Term Care
blood in a test tube blood-test-tube.jpg
Alkaline Phosphatase: What It Is, Testing, Interpretation
Gallbladder surgery long-term care
Gallbladder Surgery Long-Term Care
Surgeon consulting a patient, holding hands, getting ready for surgery
Gallbladder Surgery: What to Expect on the Day of Surgery
Woman with stomach ache lying on the sofa
Acalculous Gallbladder Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Concentrated surgeon performing surgery with her team
Cholecystectomy (Gallbladder Removal): Overview
young man suffering from stomachache meet doctor writing prescription on clipboard with laptop on desk in hospital, office syndrome, health care, medical, medicine, pharmacy concept
Biliary Dyskinesia: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
These cramps are ruining my whole day
Biliary Colic: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer
Gallstones: Overview and More
Doctor examining man
Gallstones: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
Woman in bed with hot water bottle
Gallbladder Disease: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications
man in stomach pain
Gallbladder Disease: Causes and Risk Factors
Doctor reviewing medical chart with senior man
Gallstones: Causes and Risk Factors
Doctor examining a man.
Making the Diagnosis of Gallbladder Disease
Doctor talking with senior patient in office
How Gallbladder Disease Is Treated
Woman sitting on bed holding stomach, head bowed
Treatments for Diarrhea After Gallbladder Surgery
Understanding Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease
Magnetic Resonance Enterography: Purpose, Procedure, Results
Hispanic doctor using machinery in hospital
How Gallstones Are Diagnosed
Female doctor showing patient digital tablet X-ray
Cholecystitis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
woman with stomach pain consulting with doctor
How Gallstones Are Treated
Bandaged incisions on abdomen after laparoscopic gallbladder surgery
Gallbladder Surgery: Overview
Endoscopic Ultrasound: Uses, Side Effects, and Results
Page Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Santucci NR, Hyman PE, Harmon CM, Schiavo JH, Hussain SZ. Biliary dyskinesia in children: A systematic review. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2017;64(2):186-193.

  2. McNicoll CF, Pastorino A, Farooq U, St Hill CR. Choledocholithiasis. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2020.

  3. Andrén-Sandberg A. Diagnosis and management of gallbladder polyps. N Am J Med Sci. 2012;4(5):203-211. doi:10.4103/1947-2714.95897

Additional Reading