- A gallbladder polyp is an abnormal tissue that grows inside the lining of the gallbladder. It has a small stalk that can be detected through a CT scan or ultrasound
- Gallbladder polyps are generally harmless and most polyps are benign. However, in extremely rare cases, some are malignant or cancerous. The malignancy is determined based on the gallbladder polyp size and growth rate.
- Main symptoms of polyps in the gallbladder include stomach pain in upper right abdomen, nausea and vomiting
- There is no clear gallbladder polyp treatment except to surgically remove the polyp surgically.
- Maintaining a healthy diet rich in nutrients and avoiding high cholesterol junk foods will help prevent the formation of gallbladder polyps.
Chapter 1: What are gallbladder polyps?
The gallbladder is a small organ that sits just below the liver. The gallbladder stores bile, a yellowish fluid produced by the liver that aids in digestion. The gallbladder stores and releases bile in a timely fashion into the small intestine. Although very small, the gallbladder plays a very important role in the digestion of fats and lipids.
Sometimes, polyps develop in the inner lining of the gallbladder. A polyp is an abnormal tissue growth that can develop in various regions of the body. A gallbladder polyp is one such abnormal tissue that grows inside the gallbladder. It has a tiny stalk which can easily be identified through a gallbladder polyps ultrasound or CT scan. Polyps on the gallbladder wall are usually quite harmless and the vast majority of tiny gallbladder polyps are benign. Very few, usually the larger ones, in extremely rare cases, are malignant or cancerous.
The gallbladder polyp size is often used as a test to check its malignancy:
Small gallbladder polyps smaller than 0.5 inches in diameter are usually harmless and don't usually require treatment at all
- Polyps greater than 0.5 inches in diameter pose a higher risk of becoming malignant
- Large polyps larger than 3/4 inches in diameter need to be addressed immediately, as they have a very high probability of being cancerous
To know more about gallbladder polyps, consult a gastroenterologist near you on MFine!
Chapter 2: What are the common types and symptoms of gallbladder polyps?
Gallbladder polyps are mainly divided into three types: Pseudopolyps, Inflammatory polyps, True Gallbladder Polyps.
Pseudopolyps are also known as cholesterol polyps because they are benign growths filled with cholesterol that occur when the gallbladder does not empty its contents properly. This leads to the inflammation of the gallbladder wall, which is also known as cholecystitis. These cholesterol polyps are characterized by gallbladder inflammation and are completely non-cancerous.
Inflammatory Polyps are also a type of benign small cholesterol polyps that occur as a result of chronic inflammation of the gallbladder. They are similar to pseudopolyps in that they also result from cholesterol filled tissue growths. They are only secondary to gallstones that result in abdominal pain, especially after meals. They too are benign and non-cancerous.
True gallbladder polyps have the potential to become malignant or cancerous and are quite large too. They measure around 5-20mm in diameter and can sometimes go beyond 1cm in diameter too. Anything beyond 1cm has a high risk of being cancerous.
Based on the size of the gall polyp and gallbladder polyp growth rate, your doctor will recommend an appropriate course of action. If there are multiple gallbladder polyps or large gall polyps, your doctor will most likely recommend surgery to remove them.
Now that you know the types of gallbladder polyps, what are the common symptoms of gallbladder polyps?
Other than these, there are no blatantly obvious symptoms. Polyps on gallbladder walls usually need to be diagnosed through a CT scan or ultrasound to confirm their presence.
To understand the symptoms of gallbladder polyps, consult a top gastroenterologist near you on the MFine app.
Chapter 3: What are the common gallbladder polyp causes and risk factors?
As mentioned before, bile is produced and stored in the gallbladder. If the bile has a high concentration of cholesterol, salts or other unhealthy fats, the probability of gallbladder polyps being formed is high.
Often, gallbladder polyps’ causes are also associated with gallstones. Most people who have gall polyps also have gallstones.
While most gallbladder polyps are benign, some can develop to become cancerous polyps and if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain etc, it's always important that you meet a gastroenterologist to get diagnosed.
Some people with genetic or certain health conditions have a higher risk of gallbladder polyps.
People with the following are at greater risk:
- Genetic conditions such as familial polyposis
- Gardner syndrome - also a genetic polyposis condition
- Peutz Jeghers syndrome
- Hepatitis B
How do you know if your gallbladder polyp is cancerous?
Out of the three types of gallbladder polyps, only true gallbladder polyps are cancerous. The only way for you to know for sure is through a CT scan or an ultrasound. Your doctor will be able to determine if it is cancerous or not. Gallbladder cancer has five stages, stage 5 being the most advanced and often fatal. In most cases, gallbladder cancer is only detected post-stage 1.
Having said that, you must get checked even if you notice mild symptoms, at the early stage itself.
Chapter 4: What does gallbladder polyps diagnosis and treatment involve?
Detecting gallbladder polyps isn't very easy, without imaging tests. They are often detected accidentally while you visit your doctor for some other abdominal reason.
Your doctor may suggest an ultrasound to confirm the presence of polyps. There are two main types of ultrasounds:
- Basic abdominal ultrasound(Gallbladder Polyps Ultrasound): Non-invasive procedure
- Endoscopic ultrasound: A minimally invasive procedure
After examining your ultrasound or CT scan(which may be done additionally), your doctor will study the size, shape and type of gallbladder polyp. Based on that, you will be recommended an appropriate gallbladder polyp treatment. For polyps larger than 0.5 inches in diameter, your doctor may recommend surgically removing the polyp. Gallbladder stones are also removed in the same way. Often, removing them is better because they can’t grow into larger polyps which can be cancerous. In some cases, the gallbladder is also removed along with the attached polyp. The procedure to remove gallbladder is known as a cholecystectomy. However, people can lead a perfectly normal life without a gallbladder as well. It is not at all a cause for worry.
Currently, this is the only way to get rid of gallbladder polyps. There is no medication or any other procedure available for the treatment of gallbladder Polyps. But don’t worry, it's a very safe procedure and will give you permanent relief from gallbladder polyps.
To get diagnosed and treated for gallbladder polyps, get expert guidance from top gastroenterologists near you on the Mfine app!
Chapter 5: What are some home remedies for gallbladder polyps?
Since people with high cholesterol are more likely to develop gall polyps. In these cases, reducing fatty foods that lead to high cholesterol can help reduce the likelihood of developing these polyps.
While there is no fixed gallbladder polyps diet, consuming a healthy diet with low cholesterol foods is a natural remedy for gallstones as well as gall polyps. Foods to consume include:
- Pulses and dals
- Low-fat dairy products
If you have high cholesterol, try to cut down on the following unhealthy foods:
- Deep-fried foods
- Foods with high levels of trans fats
- Sugary beverages
- Sweets and candies
- Red meats
You should also exercise regularly, especially cardiovascular exercises, such as cycling, jogging, running, dancing or swimming to keep your heart healthy. If required, you may also have to take medications to reduce your cholesterol, based on your doctor’s recommendations.
Can gallbladder polyps cause harm to the body?
While most gallbladder polyps are smaller than 0.5 inches and therefore benign, many polyps often disappear on their own without treatment. However, larger polyps can lead to severe abdominal pain and need to be removed surgically. Some may even be cancerous, so it's important to meet a gastroenterologist to get diagnosed and treated at the earliest.
What causes gallbladder polyps?
While the exact cause of gallbladder polyps is still not entirely clear, doctors and scientists believe that a person with high cholesterol has a higher chance of developing gallbladder polyps. Since these polyps are often filled with cholesterol, having high levels of cholesterol in your body makes you more prone to this condition.
What are some gallbladder polyp treatment options?
There is no gallbladder polyps treatment without surgery. The only available treatment for gallbladder polyps today is surgical removal. While tiny gallbladder polyps usually disappear on their own, larger ones need to be removed surgically before they become bigger or malignant.
Can you prevent gallbladder polyps?
A healthy diet rich in nutrients and low in cholesterol along with regular exercise(especially cardio workouts) helps decrease the risk of gallbladder polyps.
How do I book an appointment with a gastroenterologist?
You just have to download the MFine app, search for a gastroenterologist near you and book an appointment by filling out your details. You can teleconsult with your gastroenterologist online and discuss your symptoms.
Is my information secure on the MFine app?
MFine takes your privacy very seriously. At MFine, we provide the utmost confidentiality to all our patients. No information is exchanged between your doctor and anyone else.
Consult a top gastroenterologist near you on MFine, to get treated for gallbladder polyps