Gallbladder Surgery (Cholecystectomy)
Gallbladder surgery, also known as a cholecystectomy, is the surgical process in which the gallbladder is removed from the abdomen. Gallbladder surgery is most often performed because of stones, which can form in the gallbladder as well as the common bile duct, causing significant discomfort and pain. Since obesity is a significant risk factor for gallstones, the gallbladder can often be removed during a primary bariatric surgery procedure. While there are non-surgical techniques that may benefit a patient with gallstones, these are often unreliable, temporary and less effective than surgery. A consultation with your medical team can determine the best course of action based on your unique circumstances.
A Minimally Invasive Procedure
In preparation for gallbladder surgery, patients will be evaluated in order to determine if they are candidates for the laparoscopic approach. Today, a cholecystectomy is now most often performed in a laparoscopic manner, using tiny incisions in the abdomen and allowing the surgeon to access the gallbladder with specially made surgical tools including a high definition camera called a laparoscope. As a result of this minimally invasive entry into the abdomen, patients often recovery faster, have a shorter hospital stay, feel less pain and experience less blood loss.
While the minimally invasive approach has its advantages, not all patients will qualify. Some procedure may have to be converted to open surgery.
Conversion to Open Procedure
There is a possibility, as with any laparoscopic surgery, that the procedure will have to be converted to an open procedure during surgery. In certain cases, a special x-ray process called a cholangiogram will be performed during the course of the procedure. The surgeon will inject contrast dye into the common bile duct to see if there are any additional stones. If additional stones are found in the common bile duct, the surgeon may not be able to remove them as part of the minimally invasive procedure. At that point, the surgeon could decide to convert the surgery to an open procedure in order to remove those stones along with the gallbladder.
Complications Associated with Gallbladder Removal
Some patients will have short or longer term conditions associated with their gallbladder removal. These usually revolve around the gastrointestinal tract and may include diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, and pain. With that said, surgery is the only effective treatment for larger, symptomatic gallstones. Further, not all symptoms are a direct cause of the removal of the gallbladder and may be caused by other as yet undiagnosed conditions. Please speak to us to learn more about the risks associated with a gallbladder removal.
Patients who are having gallstone attacks should speak to a qualified laparoscopic surgeon such as those at Advanced Surgical Associates to understand more about qualification criteria. Please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our general surgeons.