Answers to Common General Surgery Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about general surgery.

What is a gallbladder attack?

Dr. Steven Sutherin discusses gallbladder attacks. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What is a gallbladder attack?

A gallbladder attack happens when the liquid in the gallbladder crystallizes and it's similar to sugar candy. It's supersaturated with different substances, the most common being cholesterol, and it can actually crystallize and form a stone. Now, the gallbladder again is like a water balloon. It wants to empty after you eat every meal and if it receives a message from the stomach that there is food, it squeezes and it pushes all of the liquid out. If there's a stone in there, the stone may block the opening and the gallbladder will continue to squeeze but it won't empty because the gallstone is actually blocking the opening. The gallbladder doesn't know that. It continues to squeeze, harder and harder and harder and that's what gives us a gallbladder attack.


A gallbladder attack happens when liquid in your gallbladder crystalizes and forms a stone full of different substances, Premier Physician Network (PPN) physicians say. The most common substance is cholesterol.

The gallbladder is like a water balloon, and it wants to empty after you eat a meal. It squeezes and pushes to get the liquid out, but a gallstone can block the opening and keep the gallbladder from emptying. This causes a gallbladder attack.

The attack is pain that usually starts suddenly and lasts for a few hours, according to the American Academy of Family PhysiciansOff Site Icon (AAFP).

Talk to your doctor for more information about gallbladder attacks.

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Source: James deCaestecker, DO, FACS, Gem City Surgical Associates; Daniel Taylor, MD, FACS, Miami County Surgeons; L. Stewart Lowry, MD, FACS, Miami County Surgeons; Luan Tran, MD, Miami Valley Surgery Associates; Steven Sutherin, MD, FACS, Miami Valley Surgery Associates

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