What is Gallbladder Sludge?

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The gallbladder is an organ and it is there to store bile that builds up before it travels further to the small intestine where it plays a role in processing fats and neutralizing acids from foods that have been digested. Bile can build up in the gallbladder and particles can attach to other substances found there, such as calcium, salts or cholesterol from fats. Gallbladder sludge is the result of the combination of bile particles, calcium salts and cholesterol crystals. The sludge also builds up when certain other factors and conditions are present. For example, gallbladder sludge is especially prone to building up during pregnancy, crash dieting with fast weight loss or when certain medications are being taken. In most cases, however, the sludge forms with no particular reason at all behind it.

One problem that is directly caused by a build up of gallbladder sludge is the formation of gallstones. Whereas the sludge itself does not cause many symptoms at all, the gallstones can produce more severe pain and become a problem. The gallstones that form from the sludge that remains in the gallbladder can be small in size or large and the big sizes stones are the ones that cause the symptoms to appear. Other problems caused by sludge include an inflammation of the pancreas, inflammation of gallstones and obstruction of biliary ducts which provide passage for the bile to the small intestine.

For the majority of people that have a build up of gallbladder sludge, they will experience no adverse effects or symptoms at all. The only real symptoms that sludge cause are pains linked to vomiting and nausea. Finding sludge and determining that it is even there can only be done through an ultrasound examination or by testing the contents found in the bile itself. Since sludge and gallstones are usually asymptomatic, no medical treatment is necessary. Sometimes the gallbladder sludge dissolves on its own and disappears for reasons unknown to doctors. If the sludge remains and starts causing symptoms to appear and when large gallstones start developing, then the most effective treatment is to just remove the entire gallbladder.