Gallbladder agenesis

Agenesis of the gallbladder describes the rare congenital absence of the gallbladder.

  • overall incidence is estimated <0.1% (range 0.04-0.1%)
  • gender: 
    • reported 3:1 female predominance of symptomatic cases
    • equivalent gender distribution in autopsy cases

Most patients with agenesis of the gallbladder are asymptomatic. Although some patients may present with signs and symptoms of gallbladder disease and ultrasound may suggest findings consistent with chronic cholecystitis (shrunken gallbladder). Jaundice may be present with a dilated common bile duct. There is a high incidence of choledocholithiasis.

The exact etiology is unknown, however it is thought to result either from failure of the cystic bud to form or from lack of vacuolation. Several cases of familial gallbladder agenesis have also been reported, suggesting a hereditary basis of the anomaly.

Gallbladder agenesis is associated with several other anomalies:

No treatment is needed if asymptomatic. However, patients symptomatic of biliary disease can be prescribed smooth muscle relaxants. Sphincterotomy can be performed if conservative treatment is ineffective 4

Anatomy: Abdominopelvic
Share article

Article information

rID: 27544
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Absent gallbladder

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.