More than 500,000 gallbladder removal procedures are performed each year, making it one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the United States today. Surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is the most common therapy for gallbladder disorders.

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped sac that is located directly beneath the liver in the upper right side of the abdomen. The gallbladder’s main function is to store bile, which is produced by the liver, and to release it to the small intestine to aid in digestion when food arrives. The gallbladder’s function is important, but it is not an essential organ.

Gallstones develop when the bile becomes thickened and form “stones” commonly made up of cholesterol. Though gallstones may not cause any problems, some people experience pain caused by inflammation of the gallbladder due to the stones or due to gallstones passing into the bile ducts. This pain is usually in the right upper side of the abdomen, below the rib cage or in the middle of the stomach, and most commonly follows meals with a high fat content.

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