The gall bladder and ducts exert opposite influences upon the bile. The ducts fail to concentrate and thicken it with mucus as the bladder does, but dilute it slightly with a thin secretion of their own that is colorless and devoid of cholates even when the organism is heavily jaundiced. The fluid may readily be collected into a rubber bag connected with an isolated duct segment. It continues to be formed against a considerable pressure, and, in the dog, is slightly alkaline to litmus, clear, almost watery, practically devoid of cholesterol, and of low specific gravity to judge from the one specimen tested. In obstructed ducts separated from the gall bladder, or connecting with one so changed pathologically that the concentrating faculty has been lost, such fluid gradually replaces the small amount of bile originally pent up. It is the so called "white bile" of surgeons.
When obstructed ducts connect with an approximately normal gall bladder the stasis fluid is entirely different, owing to the bladder activity. At first there accumulates in quantity a true bile much inspissated by loss of fluid through the bladder wall, darkened by a change in the pigment, and progressively thickened with bladder mucus. As time passes duct secretion mingles with the tarry accumulation and very gradually replaces it. The inspissation of the bile, as indicated by the pigment content, is at its greatest after only a day or two of stasis.
The differing influences of the ducts and bladder upon the bile must obviously have much to do with the site of origin of calculi and their clinical consequences. The concentrating activity of the bladder cannot but be a potent element in the formation of stones. We have discussed these matters at some length. Intermittent biliary stasis is admittedly the principal predisposing cause of cholelithiasis; and the stasis is to be thought of as effective, in many instances at least, through the excessive biliary inspissation for which it gives opportunity. In this way a normal gall bladder can become, merely through functional activity, a menace to the organism. In patients with the tendency to stones frequent feedings may lessen the danger of their formation.