The gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac located under the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen, according to MayoClinic.com. The liver produces bile—a digestive fluid that aids in the digestion of fat—and the gallbladder stores it. In response to foods, especially fats, the gallbladder releases the bile into the upper small intestine. The gallbladder is not essential to healthy digestion, so removal of the gallbladder rarely causes long-term complications.
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Removal of the gallbladder, or cholecystectomy, may be indicated in patients who have cancer of the gallbladder, either to remove the cancer or to reduce pain and other symptoms, reports the American Cancer Society. If the cancer has spread outside the gallbladder, more radical surgery may be required.
Gallstones in the Gallbladder
Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that form in the gallbladder, according to MayoClinic.com. When gallstones form in the gallbladder--a condition called cholelithiasis--the stones may be tiny in size or as large as golf balls. Some gallstones produce no symptoms and do not require treatment. However, patients who have a severe gallstone attack or several less severe attacks may require nned to have their gallbladder removed.
Inflammation of the Gallbladder
Cholecystitis--inflammation of the gallbladder--can occur if a gallstone becomes lodged in the neck of the gallbladder, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Symptoms include fever and severe pain. Approximately 20 percent of patients with acute cholecystitis require emergency gallbladder removal because of widespread infection or perforation of the gallbladder.
Gallstones in the Bile Duct
Gallstones can block the ducts that allow bile to flow from the gallbladder or liver to the small intestine, causing severe pain, jaundice and infection. This condition, called choledocholithiasis, requires immediate medical attention.
Inflammation of the Pancreas
A gallstone that blocks the pancreatic duct—the tube between the pancreas and the common bile duct—can cause inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that causes intense, constant abdominal pain and often requires hospitalization.
Gallbladder Disease Without Gallstones
Removal of the gallbladder may be necessary when the organ does not empty well, even though no gallstones are present. Chronic acalculous gallbladder disease causes biliary colic, symptoms of which are nausea, vomiting, gas and upper right abdominal pain.