The gallbladder is a saclike organ attached to the inferior surface of the liver. This organ stores and concentrates bile, which drains to it from the liver by way of the bile ducts, hepatic ducts, and cystic duct, respectively. A sphincter valve at the neck of the gallbladder allows a 35- to 100-ml storage capacity. When the gallbladder fills with bile, it expands to the size and shape of a small pear. Bile is a yellowish green fluid containing bile salts, bilirubin, cholesterol, and other compounds, as previously discussed. Contraction of the muscularis layer of the gallbladder ejects bile through the cystic duct into the common bile duct, which conveys bile into the duodenum (fig. 18.26).
Approximately 20 million Americans have gallstones—small, hard mineral deposits (calculi) that q can produce painful symptoms by obstructing the cystic or common bile ducts. Gallstones commonly contain cholesterol as their major component. Cholesterol normally has an extremely low water solubility (20 |lg/L), but it can be present in bile at 2 million times its water solubility (40 g/L) because cholesterol molecules cluster together with bile salts and lecithin in the hydrophobic centers of micelles. In order for gallstones to be produced, the liver must secrete enough cholesterol to create a supersaturated solution, and some substance within the gallbladder must serve as a nucleus for the formation of cholesterol crystals. The gallstone is formed from cholesterol crystals that become hardened by the precipitation of inorganic salts (fig. 18.27). Gallstones may be removed surgically; cholesterol gallstones, however, may be dissolved by oral ingestion of bile acids. This may be combined with a newer treatment that involves fragmentation of the gallstones by high-energy shock waves delivered to a patient immersed in a water bath. This procedure is called extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy.
■ Figure 18.26 Pancreatic juice and bile are secreted into the duodenum. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct to empty its secretions through the duodenal papilla into the duodenum. The release of bile and pancreatic juice into the duodenum is controlled by the sphincter of ampulla (sphincter of Oddi).
The Digestive System
Remember that Alan had pain below his right scapula whenever he ate oily or fatty food (peanut butter or bacon). If the pain were caused by a gallstone, how might this be related to Alan's elevated level of conjugated bilirubin and to his jaundice?
Bile is continuously produced by the liver and drains through the hepatic and common bile ducts to the duodenum. When the small intestine is empty of food, the sphincter of ampulla (sphincter of Oddi) at the end of the common bile duct closes, and bile is forced up to the cystic duct and then to the gallbladder for storage.
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One of the main home remedies that you need to follow to prevent gallstones is a healthy lifestyle. You need to maintain a healthy body weight to prevent gallstones. The following are the best home remedies that will help you to treat and prevent gallstones.