Medical Definition of Gallbladder absence

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Gallbladder absence: This condition, also known as agenesis (failure of development) of the gallbladder, occurs in approximately one out of every 1,000 people.

Gallbladder agenesis is an isolated abnormality in more than two-thirds (70%) of people with agenesis. The person with isolated agenesis of the gallbladder is healthy. No treatment is needed. The prognosis (outlook) is excellent.

Gallbladder agenesis occurs in association with additional malformations in the remaining (30%) of cases which fall into two groups: one (9%) with atresia (failure of opening) of the bile ducts and the other (21%) with normal bile ducts but distant abnormalities such as ventricular septal defect (a hole between the ventricles of the heart), imperforate anus (blind rectum with no anus), malrotation of the gut (failure of the intestines to rotate normally during embryonic development), renal agenesis (absence of a kidney), and syndactyly (fusion of fingers).

Agenesis of the gallbladder is most often a sporadic (unpredictable) occurrence with no clear cause. However, there are families in which the condition has occurred in several members suggesting that there are hereditary forms of gallbladder agenesis. Children with gallbladder agenesis plus distant malformations tend to have trisomy 13 or another chromosomal abnormality that carries a poor prognosis.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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