The gallbladder is a pouch-like organ that stores bile, a fluid created by the liver that helps with digestion. Gallbladder disease occurs when bile builds up in the gallbladder and cannot be released, causing pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.
There are two main causes of gallbladder disease and poor gallbladder function in children:
- Gallstones, which are hard particles that form in the gallbladder and can block the bile duct. They can range from very small to large in size.
- Mechanical or functional problems that restrict the gallbladder’s ability to expel bile.
Children with gallbladder disease may experience a range of symptoms, including:
- Upper right abdominal pain, often following meals
- Intolerance of fatty and fried foods
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Diagnosis and treatment
There are a few tests that can diagnose pediatric gallbladder disease, including:
- Blood tests that measure the level of bilirubin in the blood
- An ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan to look for gallstones or inflammation
- A hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan to identify how well the gallbladder is working
In most cases, the best treatment option is surgical removal of the gallbladder.
Expertise at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital
Our pediatric gastroenterologists and surgeons are here to support you and your child throughout your entire journey, from evaluation and treatment to follow-up care. Our specialists work together seamlessly to diagnose cases of pediatric gallbladder disease and schedule surgery if needed.
We offer a minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgical approach for most patients, which allows for faster recovery and lower pain levels. Most patients are discharged within a day of their procedure.