The name gallbladder polyps can strike some fears in you if you have just been diagnosed with one especially while a routine examination was being conducted on you. Though you may not present with signs and symptoms, the mere mention that you have gallbladder polyps could throw you off balance. Why? That is the nature of man. People get unnecessarily worked-up with issues that rarely matter. No matter the assurance doctors and nurses give you, there would still be some fears as to whether the condition is dangerous. But is it really a cause for alarm?
This post will talk about gallbladder polyps, their symptoms, causes and treatment. We shall give you all the necessary information we think you will need to get. So, try as much as possible to read this post through to the end and grab as much facts as possible to help take care of your concerns.
What exactly are gallbladder polyps?
Gallbladder polyps are growth or protrusions from the inside of the linings of the gall bladder. Majority of the gallbladder polyps (about 95%) are benign, which means that they hardly grow to become problematic or symptomatic. In few cases, the polyps can grow to become cancerous or malignant (though very rare). Small gallbladder polyps are usually less than ½ inch, which is about 10mm in diameter. Though this condition is fairly common, it is actually nothing to panic about.
The only reason why gallbladder polyps should give you sleepless nights is when the size begins to get abnormally large. The larger the size of the polyp, the greater its chance of causing gallbladder cancer. So, polyps that are above 1cm in diameter have a greater chance of causing gallbladder cancer than those that are less in diameter.
Symptoms of Gallbladder polyps
Gallbladder polyps hardly present with any noticeable signs and symptoms. The condition is usually discovered by accident while using ultrasound or any other special equipment to examine the abdomen. However, in severe cases, one may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Pain in the right hypochondriac area or right upper abdominal pain
- Jaundice due to cholesterolosis (disturbances in cholesterol/lipids metabolism)
- Itching of the skin as a result of bile obstruction
- Diarrhea resulting from inability to digest fats
What Causes Gallbladder polyps?
Gallbladder polyps are caused by several factors. Below are some of the possible causes of the condition:
Poor cholesterol metabolism
A defect in the metabolism of cholesterol has been suggested as one of the possible causes of gallbladder polyps. The defect in cholesterol metabolism gives rise to a type of polyp known as Cholesterol polyps, which account for about 50% of all polypoid lesions found in the gallbladder. They are found on the surface of the mucosal lining of the gallbladder as yellowish spots. Histologically, they are recognized as macrophages covered with epithelial cells, which are loaded with triglycerides esterified sterols in the lamina propria present in the gallbladder mucosal layer. They are easy to identify because they usually exist as multiple lesions with a size less than 10 mm and without symptoms.
Polyps can be caused by a chronic inflammation which eventually finds its way down into the lumen of the gallbladder through a narrow vascularized stalk. These types of polyp are referred to as inflammatory polyps.
Adenomas or neoplasm are growths that interrupt the gallbladder functions. Adenomatous polyps are benign neoplasms of the epithelial cells of the bladder with the tendency to become malignant. Papillary adenomas grow as complex, pedunculated tumor with branches, which eventually project into the lumen (passageway) of the gallbladder. Tubular adenomas, on the other hand, are flat, sessile neoplasm. It is sometimes difficult to separate some adenomas from the other polyps of the gallbladder with the use of ultrasonography.
This is a non-inflammatory change in the gallbladder which usually occurs in middle age, though the incidence increases as one advance in age. Though it is seen as benign growth, recent studies have shown that it is actually a precancerous lesion. There have been reports of cancer cases linked with areas of adenomyomatosis.
Age may not be a direct cause of gallbladder polyps but research results have shown that there is a relationship between age and the development of the disease. It is known that the problem is commoner in people who are 50 years old and above.
A high proportion of people who have previously had gallstones eventually end up having gallbladder polyps. The reason for this is not well known but the incidence is a little high.
Treatment for Gallbladder Polyps
It is not important to treat gallbladder polyps except when they begin to cause some symptoms. Most times, non-neoplastic polyps or polyps less than 10 mm in diameter are not treated but kept under strict monitoring to see if there is going to be changes in their features and sizes. However, whereby it is necessary to treat the problem, surgery is usually advocated.
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is needed for those patients with gallbladder polyps of less than 10 mm in diameter and which do not present with any symptoms and do not also pose the risk of developing into gallbladder cancer. The recovery period is quite fast and healing takes place within a short period after the surgery.
This is the surgical removal of the gallbladder. It is a procedure recommended for those who have gallbladder polyps that are larger than 10 mm in size, especially if the polyps are suspected to be cancerous. Cholecystectomy is an open surgery in which 2 – 4 inches of incisions are made in the upper abdomen. Specimens are collected in the course of surgery and sent to the laboratory for biopsy in order to ascertain whether it is a cancerous polyp that’s removed.
Gallbladder polyps are better prevented than treated or removed surgically. In order to prevent the condition from occurring, here are some foods to eat:
- Healthy foods low in cholesterol. Polyps with cholesterolosis depend on cholesterol to grow. So, cholesterol and fats must be avoided.
- Easily digestible foods like boiled rice or pap
- Salads with vinegar or olive oil
- Diets rich in fiber such as vegetables and fruits
- Lean meat
Foods to avoid include the following:
- Fried foods or too much oil/oily foods
- Salads with commercial dressing
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Meat with excessive fats
- Alcohol and caffeine, because they are known to worsen some of the symptoms related to gallbladder polyps
There are natural remedies that can help you take care of your gallbladder polyps. Let’s quickly take a look at some of them:
- Dandelion Roots: They assist the liver in functioning properly and in improving bile production, thereby boosting the functions of the digestive system. In order to prevent overdose, you need to consult your doctor first as overdose can worsen the gallbladder polyps.
- Ginger Tea: This is a natural detoxifying agent that can assist the body in fighting toxins and removing waste. It also assists in taking care of gallbladder polyps and other gastrointestinal problems. Take a cup of the ginger tea thrice daily.
- Chelidonium: This is a homeopathic remedy that can be used also in taking care of gallbladder polyps. It assists in reducing pain and discomfort that come with the disease.
- Turmeric: The anti-inflammatory property of turmeric can be employed in relieving the inflammation associated with gallbladder polyps. Besides, the anti-cancer attributes of turmeric, it also prevent the polyps from metamorphosing into cancer. Mix a tablespoon of turmeric with a glass of warm milk and drink it twice daily until symptoms abate.
- Figs: The power of figs cannot be underestimated. The Old Chinese medicine advocates the consumption of fresh figs to help fight gallbladder polyps. The incidence of gallbladder polyps is 9.5% among Chinese males, which makes it higher than what is obtainable among any other race. The antineoplastic effects of the antioxidant substances in figs aid the body in fighting against the formation of cancer in the gall bladder. You can easily make use of natural fig compote if getting fresh figs in your area is a challenge. They are effective as well. To prepare your figs, add 100g of dried figs to 1 L of water and mix it properly. Add natural honey to the compote to taste (if you wish). Drink 250ml of the compote up to 4 days per week. This natural remedy is quite helpful in taking care of gallbladder polyps.
You have seen that gallbladder polyps are hardly symptomatic. But when they present with signs and symptoms, you can make use of those easily available home remedies to control the symptoms and improve your comfort. While these remedies are prescribed to improve your overall well being, they are not to replace medical management. You are advised to see your doctor if the symptoms you have get worse. Remember to visit the doctor regularly in case they need to monitor your polyps.