Last reviewed 01/2018

A mucocoele is a mucus-filled gallbladder. It arises when the neck of the gallbladder becomes obstructed, normally by impaction of a stone but sometimes by malignancy or fibrosis. It remains sterile. The bile is absorbed and replaced by mucus secreted by the gallbladder epithelium. The gallbladder is tender and often palpable. An enormous range of size and shape may be found.

Most cases occur in adults. Very rarely, children may develop a mucocoele in association with a wide range of infectious diseases or as a result of a congenital narrowing of the cystic duct.

Obstruction precludes oral cholecystography but the gallbladder may be identified by ultrasonography.

In children, the mucocoele usually resolves without treatment, but in adults, cholecystectomy is indicated.