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The gallbladder is part of the digestive system. It is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of the body, under the right lobe of the liver.
The body can function without the gallbladder. If doctors need to remove it because of disease, there are no serious long-term effects and the body can still digest food.
The gallbladder is about 7.5–10 cm (3–4 inches) long and about a 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide.
The gallbladder is made up of layers of tissue:
The gallbladder, liver and small intestine are connected by a series of thin tubes or ducts.
The gallbladder and bile ducts are also called the biliary system or biliary tract.
The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile, a yellowish-green fluid made by the liver. Bile helps the body digest fats. Bile is mainly made up of:
The liver releases bile into the hepatic duct. If the bile is not needed for digestion, it flows into the cystic duct and then into the gallbladder, where it is stored. The gallbladder can store about 40–70 mL (8–14 teaspoons) of bile. The gallbladder absorbs water from the bile, making it more concentrated. When bile is needed for digestion after a meal, the gallbladder contracts and releases it into the cystic duct. The bile then flows into the common bile duct and is emptied into the small intestine, where it breaks down fats.