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Bile

Definition

Bile is a thick digestive fluid. It is released by the liver and stored in the gallbladder.

Bile helps break down fats into fatty acids, which can be taken into the body by the digestive tract.

Bile contains mostly cholesterol, bile acids (also called bile salts), and bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells). It also contains water and body salts (potassium and sodium), as well as very small amounts of copper and other metals.

See also:

References

Afdhal NH. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 159.

Review Date: 10/18/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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