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What Is a Gallbladder Polyp?

A healthy gallbladder and one with gallstones.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 August 2014
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A gallbladder polyp is a growth of cells that forms in the lining of a person’s gallbladder. The growths usually are relatively small, and though they are abnormal growths of tissue, they aren’t usually cancerous. In fact, most can be left alone and do not require medical treatment. Unfortunately, larger gallbladder polyps are more likely to be cancerous than smaller polyps, and doctors often recommend that patients have them removed surgically. Additionally, if the condition causes a great deal of pain or discomfort, surgical removal may be recommended.

Some people develop abnormal growths of cells in the lining of their gallbladders. These cell growths stick out from the lining, but are usually not large protrusions. Most gallbladder polyps are smaller than one-half inch (about 1.27 centimeters) in diameter.

Fortunately, a gallbladder polyp is unlikely to be cancerous. This fact, combined with the typical lack of symptoms in affected parties, usually means a person with this condition will not need medical treatment. The outlook may be different when a person has a large gallbladder polyp, however. This is because large polyps are more likely to prove cancerous. Often, doctors recommend the surgical removal of polyps that are larger than one-half inch (about 1.27 centimeters) in diameter.

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Though a small gallbladder polyp may not require treatment, a doctor may still wish to monitor it. This way, he can evaluate the polyp for changes that may be cancerous. A smaller polyp that causes more severe symptoms might require removal as well. Additionally, an individual may need treatment if he has multiple polyps.

In most cases, a person with gallbladder polyps will not have any symptoms of the condition. When an individual does develop related symptoms, they are typically mild. For example, an individual might experience pain that develops in the upper-right side of his abdomen. In some cases, the pain is continuous while in others an individual may only experience episodes of discomfort. In the event that a patient has severe pain in the upper-right portion of his abdomen, he may be suffering from gallbladder stones rather than polyps.

Since gallbladder polyps do not usually cause symptoms, their presence is often discovered only when the patient is examined for another reason. For example, a gastric polyp may be discovered during an ultrasound ordered to check for the presence of gallstones. Sometimes they are also found when an ultrasound is performed to diagnose inflammation of the gallbladder.

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