Porcelain gallbladder is a pathological condition that is practically asymptomatic and usually it is just an incidental finding. Its relationship to the gallbladder cancer, however, can not be underestimated.
The main problem is excessive deposition of calcium in the gallbladder wall and its subsequent calcification. The reason is not clear, but it may be related to a long-term presence of gallstones. Some influence may also have the chronic inflammation of the gallbladder wall such as in case of chronic cholecystitis. However, it is still uncertain, why the porcelain gallbladder develops only in some patients with the stones and cholecystitis. Probably, there is some genetic predisposition or participation of other unknown factors.
The symptoms are subtle; the affected person may suffer from feeling of full stomach, nausea after meals and episodes of occasional vomiting. The most important fact is that the porcelain gallbladder is associated with a higher risk of developing the gallbladder cancer, which is one of the deadliest forms of cancer diseases at all.
The diagnosis can be made from an X-ray of the abdomen, where the calcified gallbladder wall is visible. Other imaging methods such as abdominal ultrasound or computed tomography can visualize the condition even better including presence of any gallstones.
In case of finding a porcelain gallbladder, its removal is recommended regardless of its manifestations. The removal is done either by laparoscopic (frequently) or laparotomic (rarely) surgical intervention (cholecystectomy).