The gallbladder is located right under the liver. It is a small sac that stores bile, a substance that helps the body digest fats. The cystic duct (or bile duct) moves bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine through a series of tubes. Problems with your gallbladder can occur when this duct is blocked. The most likely cause of a bile duct block is a gallstone, however, things like strictures or cancers are also possible. If your gallbladder isn’t releasing bile correctly, and you don’t have a stone, you may notice you have a hard time tolerating fatty foods.
Gallstones form when substances in bile harden due to cholesterol and other fluids making their way into the bile. Most gallstones are harmless, however, those that are large enough to block the duct require treatment. Problematic gallstones are more prevalent in people who are either overweight or trying to lose weight quickly. Pregnancy can increase the risk for gallstones and gallbladder problems are known to be more common in women. Gallbladder problems may also be hereditary.