What is Gallbladder?
Have you ever wondered how the body digests the food that it consumes? The human body is composed of many parts, organs and systems. The system responsible for digestion is the digestive system. The digestive system is composed of organs that are all equally important to complete the function of the system. However, this article will focus on one particular part of the digestive system ‘“ the gallbladder.
What is this thing called gallbladder? Gallbladder is a part of the digestive system of vertebrates and that includes human. It is literally a small organ, which helps in the digestion process. This organ stores the bile produced by a larger organ called the liver. So how does this gallbladder look like? It is smaller compared to the liver and its shape is similar to that of a pear. Its size is estimated to be at 3 to 4 inches in length and about an inch wide. The hepatic duct connects the gallbladder and the liver.
As mentioned earlier, this small organ collects the bile produced by the liver. Its function is to concentrate the bile. Bile assists in the digestion of the partially broken down food by softening the fats with it. Moreover, it also neutralizes the acid contained in the partially digested food. The gallbladder can be divided into three segments namely; fundus, body and neck.
The bile produced by the liver is not that concentrated compared when it is stored in the bile. There is approximately 50ml of bile that an adult human gallbladder can hold. The digestive tract can detect if the food passing through it contains fat. Fat contained in the food triggers the digestive system to stimulate the secretion of cholesystokinin. The function of the gallbladder is to make the bile more concentrated so its potency increases. This will result to an intensified fat emulsification.
However, in 2009, there was a new finding that gallbladder also produces insulin and other various pancreatic hormones. It was an unexpected finding since insulin was thought to be produced in the human pancreas. However, it is said that humans can tolerate the absence of gallbladder after cholesystectomy, or the surgical removal of the said organ.
Cholesystectomy is a procedure done when stones inside the gallbladder form. These crystallized stones are called gallstones. Gallstones are formed by the crystallization of some substances found in the bile. Gallstones are said to be more common to women and obese people at their 40s. The gallstones may block the bile duct thus producing excruciating pain. Pain is commonly experienced when a person takes a fatty meal. Gallstone may be excreted out of the body unexpectedly. However, if it causes serious obstruction, a cholesystectomy must be performed.
As mentioned earlier, the human body tolerates well the loss of a gallbladder. On the other hand, there are also some who experiences complications after cholesystectomy. However, complications are considered rare. The most common complications are internal bleeding, infection of the tube or duct or damage to that tube carrying bile from the liver to the gallbladder. There are also some cases when patients experience diarrhea although what causes it is unexplained.