Oesophageal Patients Association
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The Gall Bladder and its function

Hi, I had my op four years ago. Everything is great now, but I had a very painful gall stone last year, which they trawled a balloon through and removed it. It has been suggested that I have my gall bladder removed now as we don't use this organ anymore. But if it controls the bile from the liver through to the stomach, does anyone know if there would be any side effects at all. I am really not sure about being poked and prodded about even if it is micro surgery. Thanks

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Hi, I had an oesophagectomy 4 years ago for cancer and during the surgery they removed my gall bladder. Since then I have had a big problem with fats and certain foods - I would hold onto it as long as you can. Hope this helps- Ann from Australia.


Thank you Sophie/Anne for this information. It's a great help.


It is an operation that is done quite frequently. Surgeons do not suggest these things without good reason, so I would listen carefully to what they say and trust their judgement. You could ask (and might have done already) whether this surgery might prevent future gall stone trouble, the implications for digesting fats, and the effects on potential bile reflux. As your insides have been re-arranged, it would be good sense for your original surgeon to be involved, if possible.

I completely understand your reluctance to have anything else done to your insides, but people do have surgery after an oesophagectomy. If the surgeons did the main, difficult surgery successfully, this one should be quite OK.


Surgeons, who of necessity are gung-ho types, do not pay much more than lip service to quality of life. Hence sometimes a cholecystectomy is performed at the same time as the Ivor Lewis on the pretext that "we can't go in there again" owing to the inevitable formation of adhesions in the field of the original surgery.

However we most certainly do use our gallbladders, all day, every day! It's function is to store fresh bile from the liver, de-water, concentrate and oxidise this and then release a measured amount calibrated to match the fat content of the recent meal.

Without all those subtle functions you will have problems. No you will not die but yes you will experience much greater discomfort with rich food, the continuous flow of bile (up to 2 litres per day) will hugely exacerbate the problems of reflux. Worst of all you are pre-disposed to being housebound with chronic, debilitating diarrhea as the bile acids disrupt the water recovery function normally carried out in the colon.[there is a palliative for this but it entails taking an unpleasant medication for the rest of one's life]

I write from personal, traumatic experience. So if there is any way that you think you can dodge the knife then that would be my recommendation.

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