Gallbladder endometriosis is very rare, but it can happen. It may cause symptoms like pain and cramping that get worse before or during your period.
Endometriosis typically affects the organs in your pelvis, like your ovaries or abdominal wall. But occasionally, it develops in organs like the bowels and lungs. Although it’s very rare, patches of endometriosis can also grow on the gallbladder.
According to the
This article will provide an overview of gallbladder endometriosis, discuss other unusual sites for endometriosis, and describe other, more common gallbladder issues.
Your uterus is lined with tissue called endometrial tissue. Inside the uterus, it helps anchor a fertilized egg after conception. When you don’t get pregnant, endometrial tissue flushes out of your uterus during menstruation.
Endometriosis happens when tissue similar to endometrial tissue grows outside of your uterus. It usually affects the organs located in your pelvis, for example:
The hormonal changes that happen during the menstrual cycle affect these patches of endometrial tissue, making them grow, thicken, and eventually break down. These changes can cause inflammation and pain, which can be mild to extreme. It can also lead to scaring that makes it harder to get pregnant.
What is extrapelvic endometriosis?
Endometriosis most commonly affects the organs inside your pelvis. But, in some people, it grows in other parts of the body. This is known as extrapelvic endometriosis.
Extrapelvic endometriosis can affect:
- the lining of your abdomen (abdominal wall)
- your digestive system, for example, the liver and the gallbladder
- the urinary tract, for example, the kidneys
- certain muscles
- the lungs or chest cavity
- the brain
Endometriosis of the gallbladder is extremely rare. Doctors know of only a few cases of this condition to date.
One of these cases,
Another case of gallbladder endometriosis was published in 2012. This time, it occurred in a 55-year-old woman in Italy. She also had severe abdominal cramps, especially noticeable during menstruation.
There have been other cases of gallbladder endometriosis, but information is limited.
While gallbladder endometriosis is an extremely rare condition, this organ can have other, more common problems.
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located under your liver. Your gallbladder’s function is to store bile — a combination of fluids, fat, and cholesterol made by the liver. Bile helps break down fats in your food.
Gallbladder issues are usually caused by a blockage in your bile ducts, which connect your gallbladder to your liver and small intestine. Blockages are usually caused by gallstones, which happen when bile crystallizes. This causes gallbladder inflammation, also known as cholecystitis.
Symptoms of gallbladder inflammation include:
- severe, often excruciating abdominal pain and bloating
- clay-colored stool
- jaundice (yellow skin)
Although gallstones can pass on their own, they tend to come back. If you have gallstones, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder to prevent recurring issues.
To diagnose endometriosis of the gallbladder, a doctor will start with a physical exam. They might ask you about your pain and when you experience it during your menstrual cycle.
To distinguish gallbladder endometriosis from other, more common abdominal issues, a doctor may order the following tests:
- blood tests like a complete blood count (CBC) and a metabolic panel
- imaging tests like an MRI or ultrasound
- a HIDA scan, which helps doctors see whether the gallbladder can release bile
- an endoscopy
- a colonoscopy
- a laparotomy
To diagnose gallbladder problems, the first step is typically an ultrasound to check for gallbladder disease. Later, your doctor may order a HIDA scan, which helps them see whether the gallbladder can release bile.
If your doctor suspects gallbladder endometriosis, they might look for signs of endometriosis in other parts of your body. They may recommend an exploratory procedure like a laparotomy. This allows doctors to look inside the abdominal cavity by inserting an endoscope and other surgical tools through small incisions.
If your doctor diagnoses you with gallbladder endometriosis, they may recommend surgery to remove the gallbladder. You can live a healthy life without a gallbladder.
Your doctor might also recommend medications that help regulate your reproductive hormones, like hormonal birth control pills.
Endometriosis of the gallbladder is a very rare condition. It happens when endometrial-like tissue grows in the gallbladder. It can cause abdominal pain, especially during menstruation.
Because gallbladder endometriosis is so rare, your doctor will first exclude other more common causes of gallbladder pain, for example, gallstones. If a diagnosis of gallbladder endometriosis is confirmed, you might need surgery to remove the gallbladder and medications to help regulate your menstrual cycle.