BSIP, DELALANDE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP, DELALANDE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gallstones. Macrophotograph of gallstones (small brown/green lumps) in an excised gallbladder. Gallstones are hard deposits of cholesterol that form due to an imbalance between bile and cholesterol levels. They can cause sharp pain in the abdomen, and may lead to infection. The gallbladder is a small organ that stores bile produced by the liver until it is needed. The bile is released during digestion to emulsify fats. Gallstones are most common in obese people and the elderly. The gallstones may be broken up by focused ultrasonic waves, but in severe cases the gallbladder may require surgical removal.
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