The Human Body


Gallbladder, muscular organ that serves as a reservoir for bile, present in most vertebrates. In humans, it is a pear-shaped membranous sac on the undersurface of the right lobe of the liver just below the lower ribs. It is generally about 7.5 cm (about 3 in) long and 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter at its thickest part; it has a capacity varying from 1 to 1.5 fluid ounces. The body (corpus) and neck (collum) of the gallbladder extend backward, upward, and to the left. The wide end (fundus) points downward and forward, sometimes extending slightly beyond the edge of the liver. Structurally, the gallbladder consists of an outer peritoneal coat (tunica serosa); a middle coat of fibrous tissue and unstriped muscle (tunica muscularis); and an inner mucous membrane coat (tunica mucosa).

The function of the gallbladder is to store bile, secreted by the liver and transmitted from that organ via the cystic and hepatic ducts, until it is needed in the digestive process. The gallbladder, when functioning normally, empties through the biliary ducts into the duodenum to aid digestion by promoting peristalsis and absorption, preventing putrefaction, and emulsifying fat. See Digestive System.