GALLBLADDER POLYPS

The gallbladder sits just beneath your liver. It is a small pear-shaped organ that stores and concentrates bile from the liver which helps your body break down and digest food.

A polyp is a small growth (a little like a wart) that grows from the lining of the gallbladder. Gallbladder polyps are usually diagnosed with ultrasound. They may occur with gallstones, and they may cause symptoms or be asymptomatic.

What is the significance of polyps?

The significance of polyps is, similar to bowel polyps, they can develop into cancers over decades.

The risk of cancer is directly related to the size of the polyp

  • Polyps less than 7mm in size are not associated with cancer
  • Polyps 7-9mm in size are rarely associated with cancers
  • Polyps 10mm or greater in size can be associated with cancers in 10% of patients

Treatment

Polyps of 7mm or greater in size are observed annually with ultrasound and those 10mm in size or greater we recommend laparoscopic cholecystectomy to treat and allow the polyp to be examined by a pathologist.

Occasionally surgery is recommended for smaller polyps particularly if they are causing symptoms (eg pain) or they are associated with gallstones. Both of these factors have been shown to increase the risk of cancer in associated with gallbladder polyps.

The content is to be used as a guide only. Always consult your specialist to determine information relevant to you and your circumstances.