Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are gallbladder polyps common?"
I had an ultrasound because my physician suspected I had gallstones. She did not find any gallstones, but she did find gallbladder polyps. She acted is if it was nothing to worry about, but it was still frightening for me to hear. What is a gallbladder polyp and how common are they?
Gallbladder polyps are growths that extend inward from the mucosal lining of the gallbladder wall. These polyps have been increasingly diagnosed as incidental findings over the years with the widespread use of ultrasound imaging. Several studies of surgically-removed gallbladders or ultrasound have found polyps in anywhere from 1.5 to 13 percent of patients. Most often these polyps are benign growths (called hyperplastic polyps) or are deposits of fatty cholesterol-containing material. A small portion of polyps detected are cancerous or have the potential to develop into cancer. Depending on the size and characteristics of the polyp, your physician may choose to either follow the polyps with period ultrasound imaging or take another course of action (such as removal of the gallbladder). The size of the polyp is the quality that has the strongest correlation to cancer, such that polyps larger than 2 centimeters are almost always cancerous (making surgery the best option). Polyps that are 1-2 centimeters long are generally managed with removal of the gallbladder as well. The presence of smaller polyps may also be an indication for surgery, if symptoms (such as abdominal pain) or gallstones are also involved. You should have a discussion with your physician about the size of your gallbladder polyps and her plan for management.
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