Gallbladder & extrahepatic bile ducts
Anatomy & embryology

Topic Completed: 1 September 2012

Minor changes: 30 December 2020

Copyright: 2003-2021,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Anatomy[TIAB] gallbladder [TIAB]

Hanni Gulwani, M.B.B.S.
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Cite this page: Gulwani H. Anatomy & embryology. website. Accessed January 16th, 2021.
  • Pear shaped saccular structure for bile storage in gallbladder fossa of posterior right hepatic lobe
  • Attached to liver by loose connective tissue and to duodenum by cholecystoduodenal ligament
  • 10 x 4 cm but depends on volume of bile (normal 40 - 70 ml)
  • Wall thickness 1 - 2 mm
  • Has fundus, body and neck
  • Variations of bile ducts and arteries may be dangerous during surgery
  • Regional lymph nodes: lymph node present at gallbladder neck or cystic duct drains to hepatic hilar nodes (along common bile duct, hepatic artery, portal vein, cystic duct); also celiac, periduodenal, peripancreatic and superior mesenteric nodes
  • Distal fundus: extends beyond anterior liver margin
  • Central body: most of gallbladder
  • Neck: narrows as it joins the cystic duct
  • Cystic duct: 3 cm tubular structure, located in right free edge of lesser omentum, has spiral valve of Heister
  • Infundibulum: portion of body that joins the neck
  • Hartmanns pouch: dilation in infundibulum, may be due to chronic inflammation
  • Vasculature: supplied by cystic artery, usually a branch of right hepatic artery

    Right and left hepatic ducts:
    • 3 - 4 mm in diameter, within hepatoduodenal ligament, join to form common hepatic duct in porta hepatis (hilum of liver) within 1 cm of their exit from liver
    • 10 - 30% have variation of 2 right sided ducts that join separately with left hepatic duct, common hepatic duct or cystic duct

    Common hepatic duct:
    • 2 - 8 mm, 1 - 5 cm long, joins cystic duct (1 - 3 cm long) to form common bile duct

    Common bile duct:
    • 2 - 9 cm long, passes posterior to first portion of duodenum, traverses the head of pancreas, enters the second part of duodenum through the ampulla of Vater and discharges gallbladder contents into duodenal lumen
    • 60% have common channel for pancreatic duct and common bile duct
    • Remainder have 2 ducts in parallel

    Cystic duct:
    • Attaches gallbladder to extrahepatic bile duct, marks division between common hepatic duct and common bile duct
    • Usually 2 - 4 cm
    • Contains spiral valves of Heister

    Sacculi of Beale:
    • Tiny pits that are infoldings of surface epithelium and give mucosa a reticular macroscopic appearance

    Spiral valves of Heister:
    • Folds in proximal mucosa of cystic duct, supported by underlying smooth muscle fibers
    • Regulates degree of gallbladder distension
  • Drawings

    Images hosted on other servers:

    Relationship to liver

    Extrahepatic bile ducts

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    Image 01 Image 02