Gallbladder Disease (Cholecystectomy)
The gallbladder is a small organ that stores a substance called bile. Bile helps to digest fatty foods. Under certain conditions, the gallbladder can begin to malfunction. Oftentimes, this results in the development of small crystallizations known as gallstones. Sometimes the gallbladder does not function properly, resulting in pain, even when no gallstones are present.
Gallstones can be incredibly painful and more often than not a person who suffers from gallstones will need surgery to remove the gallbladder to prevent future occurrences of pain.
Did you know?
About 80% of people who suffer from gallstones will need surgery to remedy the situation. This is an extremely common surgery that has a high success rate.
How will I know if I need surgery?
Only your doctor can determine if you need surgery. However, if you have gallstones but they are not causing problems, you may not need surgery.
Surgery is done when a gallstone ends up blocking the duct to the gallbladder. This is an extremely painful situation that many patients describe as “stabbing” and “knife-like.” If left untreated, this can result in an inflamed gallbladder or gangrene of the gallbladder. Gallstones can travel from the gallbladder to the main bile duct and cause pancreatitis or jaundice.
What sort of tests are needed to confirm surgery as an option?
The doctor will likely run several tests to confirm their suspicion of whether this is truly a gallbladder issue or not.
One of the most common is the use of ultrasound, which provides a visualization of the gallbladder. It allows the doctor to see if you have gallstones and whether your gallbladder duct is truly blocked. Sometimes CT scans are used. Another test commonly done is called a HIDA scan.
Can I manage my gallbladder problems with diet?
It’s often recommended that patients who suffer from gallbladder problems cut back on fat in their diets. This can help prevent recurrences but is not always effective. The good news is that you can live normally without your gallbladder.
What type of surgery is performed?
A Cholecystectomy to remove the gallbladder is done in an open fashion or laparoscopically. The current standard of care is a laparoscopic procedure. This is a minimally invasive method that uses very small incisions and a camera to remove the gallbladder.
Unfortunately, at times a surgeon is unable to safely identify the cystic duct and artery and so an open, or traditional procedure is required. The patient undergoes an incision just under the right side of the rib cage. In both methods, the cystic duct and artery are identified and ligated. This can be performed before or after the body of the gallbladder is removed from the liver bed.