Usually, surgeons who specialize in gastrointestinal surgery (digestive tract surgery) perform surgeries related to the gallbladder. Therefore, the gallbladder may be operated upon and removed by either a gastrointestinal surgeon or a general surgeon with appropriate training. Gallbladder removal is one of the most common surgeries performed by gastrointestinal surgeons.
What are the two types of gallbladder surgery?
There are two types of gallbladder surgery.
- Laparoscopic is preferred due to shorter operation time, shorter hospital stay, lower risk of wound infection and incisional hernia rate, and lower complication rate than the open procedure.
- Open cholecystectomy is a longer procedure, higher risk, and longer hospital stay.
What is a gallbladder and gallstone?
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped pouch underneath the liver that stores the bile, a chemical fluid, produced by the liver and helps digest fatty food.
Occasionally, gallbladder becomes swollen and inflamed and needs to be removed. A condition with the swollen gallbladder is called as cholecystitis. The most common cause of cholecystitis is gallbladder stones (Others being typhoid infection, polyps, and tumors).
A gallbladder stone is formed because of the bile getting concentrated around a source (nidus). The source may be an infective focus, fat, or a hardened piece of bile secretion itself. Gallbladder stones can cause the pancreas to swell (pancreatitis) or cause jaundice by obstruction of the bile flow.
When does your doctor suggest the removal of the gallbladder?
If these gallstones aren’t causing any symptoms, then your doctor may not advise surgery. Generally, these stony structures formed in the gallbladder do not dissolve with any medications. They may block the ducts, and you may experience many other severe debilitating symptoms called “gallbladder attack.” These symptoms are as follows:
- Intense, sharp, knife-like pain in your upper belly that may last several hours
- Problems related to digestion such as flatulence and heartburn
- Fever with chills
- Yellow skin and eyes
Gallstones in your gallbladder
- In such a case, your doctor may suggest removing your gallbladder. It is known as “cholecystectomy.” There are two ways to remove your gallbladder, namely, open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.
- In the laparoscopic method, the surgeon will make four small (1-2-inch diameter) key-hole-sized cuts on your belly. They will insert flexible thin tubes with a light and tiny camera through these openings. They can visualize the inside organs with endoscopes and be able to remove the diseased organ by passing special tools through another hole.
Both surgeries are performed under general anesthesia, in which you will be sedated throughout the procedure. Laparoscopic surgeries are more commonly performed because they are nearly bloodless, are minimally invasive, and have a faster recovery than open surgeries.
If this diseased gallbladder is not removed, it may cause more serious health problems such as:
- Gallbladder inflammation
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Inflammation of the bile ducts
What are the complications of gallbladder removal?
Usually, gallbladder removal is a safe procedure. However, you may still have some problems including:
- After-effects of anesthesia
- Bile leakage
- Damage to the bile duct
- Blood clot formation in the deep blood vessels
- Heart problems
- Damage to your gut, bowel, or blood vessels
- Pneumonia (lung infection and inflammation)
See your doctor if you have:
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