What does the gallbladder do?
The gallbladder stores the bile produced by the liver. Bile is a fluid in our digestive system that helps us digest proteins and fats. Sensors in our bodies can detect whether the food we eat contains fat or protein. When they do, they produce the hormone CCK (cholecystokinin) and send it into the bloodstream. When it travels to the gallbladder, it stimulates the smooth muscles to contract and release bile.
Though helpful, the gallbladder is not an essential organ. It aids in sending bile to the small intestine, but our bodies have other methods of doing this. Like all organs, things can go wrong. The gallbladder, for example, could get clogged with gallstones.
What are gallstones?
Gallstones are deposits in the gallbladder formed from undissolved cholesterol or bilirubin. Yellow gallstones are more common and are formed from excess cholesterol (bilirubin produces black stones). These stones can be smooth or jagged and small (grains) or large (like a golf ball). Pain comes from the stones becoming lodged in a bile-carrying duct.