Gallstones are hardened clumps of bile. Bile is a dark green to yellowish brown fluid produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and then deposited into the small intestine to aid digestion.
Gallstones vary in size from a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many at the same time. Gallstones may cause no signs or symptoms, and require no treatment. However, if one becomes lodged in the neck of the gallbladder this can cause inflammation. Blockage of the bile duct can cause jaundice and infection. And if gallstones block the pancreatic duct this can lead to inflammation of the pancreas. People with a history of gallstones also have an increased risk of gallbladder cancer.