What is a gallbladder polyp?
A gallbladder polyp is a small, abnormal growth of tissue with a stalk protruding from the lining of the inside of the gallbladder. They are relatively common.
The gallbladder is a small organ that stores bile and passes it from the liver to the small intestine.
Although gallbladder polyps can be cancerous (malignant), about 95 percent of gallbladder polyps are noncancerous (benign).
Gallbladder polyp size is often an indication of the presence of cancer:
- Small gallbladder polyps — less than 1/2 inch in diameter — are typically benign and, in most cases, don’t need to be treated.
- Gallbladder polyps larger than 1/2 inch in diameter have a greater likelihood of being or becoming malignant.
- Gallbladder polyps larger than 3/4 inch have a high probability of being malignant.
In many cases, people with gallbladder polyps show no symptoms. There are, however, some people who complain of:
- occasional pain in the right part of the upper abdomen (hypochondrium)
Most gallbladder polyps are diagnosed while your doctor examines you for another, unrelated illness.
If your doctor is worried you have gallbladder polyps, they may do a test to diagnose the polyp and its size. Possible tests include:
- abdominal ultrasound, which is noninvasive
- endoscopic ultrasound, which is minimally invasive
It’s unclear what causes gallbladder polyps.
There might be an association with fat metabolism and family genetics, but that is unproven.
Treating gallbladder polyps has to do with the size of the growth.
For polyps less than 1/2 inch in diameter, your doctor might schedule regular ultrasounds to monitor your growths for any changes that might indicate cancer. Your doctor may recommend abdominal or endoscopic ultrasounds.
For polyps larger than 1/2 inch in diameter, your doctor might recommend surgical removal of the gallbladder. This procedure is called a cholecystectomy. Many doctors recommend this course of treatment if you have both gallstones and gallbladder polyps.
Although natural treatments aren’t supported by the medical community or clinical research, many people look to natural sources for relief from benign gallbladder polyps. Some of these home remedies include:
- warm water enemas
- applying hot water packs externally
- drinking pear juice or eating pears
- drinking unrefined olive oil on an empty stomach
- drinking beet juice or eating beets
Along with trying home remedies, some people advocate taking natural preventive steps to help reduce gallbladder polyps, including:
- avoiding fried or fatty foods
- avoiding high-cholesterol foods and readymade foods
- avoiding full-fat dairy products
- avoiding carbonated beverages
- eating more fruits and vegetables
- increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids
- increasing intake of ginger and turmeric
Consult with your doctor before you implement any home remedy or diet change. None of these home remedies are supported by medical research.
Gallbladder polyps are common and 95 percent are noncancerous. Most gallbladder polyps are diagnosed during an examination performed for an unrelated illness. If you have gallbladder polyps, you likely won’t show any symptoms.
If you are diagnosed with gallbladder polyps, your doctor might recommend monitoring them with ultrasound examinations. If there is a high probability of cancer, or if you’ve had gallstones, your doctor may recommend removing your gallbladder surgically.