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What Are Gallstones?

Gallstones, composed of various materials, sometimes form in the gallbladder, a sac that stores bile. Bile flows from the liver to the gallbladder and is excreted into the intestines to help neutralize stomach acid and digest fat. In addition, bile is rich in cholesterol, a fat that is manufactured and excreted by the liver, and bilirubin, a product from the breakdown of old red blood cells. Sometimes, an imbalance between these two substances can lead to the formation of microscopic crystals within the gallbladder. These have the potential to grow and become gallstones, which further develop in size with more changes in cholesterol and bilirubin levels.

The gallstones may remain in the gallbladder or may pass easily through the bile duct into the upper part of the small intestine without causing problems. However, complications can occur when it gets trapped in the cystic or bile duct.


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