What Is Gallstones and What Causes It?

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Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver. You might not even know you have them until they block a bile duct, causing pain that you need to get treated right away. Several reasons cause gallstones, including:
  • Too much cholesterol. If your liver excretes more cholesterol than your bile can dissolve, the excess cholesterol may form into crystals and eventually into stones.
  • Too much bilirubin. Bilirubin is a chemical that's produced when your body breaks down red blood cells. Certain conditions cause your liver to make too much bilirubin, including liver cirrhosis, biliary tract infections and certain blood disorders.
  • Your gallbladder doesn't empty correctly. If your gallbladder doesn't empty completely or often enough, bile may become very concentrated, contributing to the formation of gallstones.
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