Gallbladder polyps are a condition that affect up to five percent of adults. They often develop in people that also suffer from gallstones. The cause of these polyps is not known, but they are more common in people that are older and in men. Often, gallbladder polyps do not cause any symptoms and are only discovered during a medical examination.
Many people are concerned that gallbladder polyps are cancerous, but this is not true. While some polyps can become malignant, most polyps, particularly small ones, are not. There are two risk factors that increase the likelihood of a polyp being cancerous. The first is the size. A polyp that is larger than one centimeter should be watched carefully for signs that it may become malignant.
Another concern are polyps that develop alongside other gallbladder diseases. Gallstone polyps that develop in people that have a condition known as primary sclerosing cholangitis have a higher risk of being malignant than polyps that develop on their own. A patient that has more than one gallstone condition will require careful monitoring by a physician.
The majority of gallbladder polyps are made up of excessive cholesterol in the lining of the gallbladder. These polyps are not dangerous and often don’t even produce symptoms. They are often diagnosed when a physician is performing an ultrasound for other reasons.
While most polyps are left in place, there are several conditions that may warrant their removal. If they are large, which is defined as larger than one centimeter, they are candidates for removal. Also, gallstone polyps that occur along with gallstones are removed when the gallbladder is removed. Some physicians remove the gallbladder in a patient who develops polyps after the age of 50. If the gallbladder polyps are small, the doctor may be able to remove them through laparoscopic surgery.
If polyps make it necessary to have your gallbladder removed, it may be necessary to alter your diet following surgery. The liver produces sufficient bile for the digestion process, even without the gallbladder. While the body is getting accustomed to digesting food without the gallbladder, you may experience more frequent and urgent bowel movements. Eliminating dairy, reducing fat intake and increasing your intake of fiber can help resolve this issue.