Should I Be Worried About Gallbladder Polyps?

Reviewed on 2/17/2022
Rendering of a gallbladder polyp
Gallbladder polyps usually are not a major concern, as most of them are benign (not cancerous) and they do not usually cause serious symptoms or complications. Rarely, in about 5% of cases, gallbladder polyps are cancerous. Polyps larger than ½” in diameter have a higher risk of becoming malignant (cancer).

Gallbladder polyps are growths or lesions that form on the inner lining of the gallbladder. 

Most gallbladder polyps are benign (not cancerous), do not cause any symptoms or complications, and are not a reason for worry. 

In rare cases, about 5% of the time, gallbladder polyps can be cancerous. The size of a gallbladder polyp can often suggest whether it might be cancerous. 

  • Polyps measuring less than ½” in diameter are usually benign
  • Polyps larger than ½” in diameter have a higher risk of becoming malignant (developing into cancer)
  • Polyps larger than ¾” have a high probability of being malignant

What Are Symptoms of Gallbladder Polyps?

Gallbladder polyps usually do not cause any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include: 

What Causes Gallbladder Polyps?

Causes of gallbladder polyps include:

  • High cholesterol levels in the bile
  • High salt levels in the bile
  • Thickening of the gallbladder wall (adenomyomatosis)

Risk factors for developing gallbladder polyps include:

How Are Gallbladder Polyps Diagnosed?

Gallbladder polyps usually don’t cause ant symptoms and they are often discovered incidentally when a patient is examined or tested for another condition. 

Imaging tests used to diagnose gallbladder polyps include:

What Is the Treatment for Gallbladder Polyps?

Patients who have no symptoms of gallbladder polyps usually do not need treatment. Regular monitoring with ultrasound is often recommended to see if the polyp gets bigger. 

Treatment for patients who are symptomatic involves surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy).

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Reviewed on 2/17/2022
Image Source: iStock Images