Gallbladder Polyps

Gallbladder polyp is a relatively common incidental finding in many patients. These polyps are usually harmless, but under certain conditions, they can be mortally dangerous. Let me just add that a general text about the issue of polyps can be found here.


The cause of polyp occurrence is not always clear. There is probably some connection between a more frequent formation of polyps and gallstones. The polyps often have a character of cholesterol deposits, but other times they may occur due to excessive proliferation of cells of the gallbladder wall. Gallbladder tumors both benign and malignant may also look like polyps.


Gallbladder polyps are usually asymptomatic and they can be incidentally found during a routine abdominal ultrasound examination. Sometimes, the patient with gallbladder polyps suffers from episodes of gallbladder colic, but this is rather caused by simultaneously present gallstones.


Gallbladder polyp



The polyps are usually found by an ultrasound. However, we do not have a broadly available examination that would allow us to take a tissue sample from the polyp to evaluate its character. Therefore, our approach depends on the size of the polyp. The polyps smaller than 1 cm in diameter are commonly benign and polyps larger than 1 cm have a higher risk of malignancy. That is why small benign-looking polyps can be just repeatedly monitored by regular ultrasounds, but larger polyps force us to indicate surgical cholecystectomy (the removal of gallbladder). The removed tissue can be sent for a histological examination.


The main therapeutic option is already mentioned surgical removal of the entire gallbladder (cholecystectomy). Of course, the decision depends on the particular case and the patient's overall health. Nowadays, laparoscopic kind of intervention is preferred.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources