Due to various reasons or medical conditions, your gallbladder may get affected and can form gallstones. These gallstones vary in size and range from the size of rice grain to the size of a golf ball. If you are suffering from the symptoms and complications of gallstones, then you should undergo gallbladder removal surgery. However, your doctor will evaluate the severity of the disease condition and decide whether to undergo a gallbladder removal surgery or not.
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that is located just below the liver and upper right side of the abdomen. This helps in the collection and storage of bile that is produced from the liver. The gallbladder will release the bile into the intestine for the digestion of fatty foods.
Gallbladder removal surgery, also known as cholecystectomy, involves surgical removal of either damaged or infected gallbladder. Before undergoing gallbladder removal surgery, your doctor will evaluate the disease condition and decide whether to perform the surgery or not. Mostly, in the following conditions, you should undergo a gallbladder removal surgery
- Indigestion: Gallstones can destroy the oxyntic cells [epithelial cells in the stomach that secrete hydrochloric acid (HCl) and intrinsic factor] and lead to duodenal reflux. This change can lead to hyposecretion and duodenal reflux. This change in oxyntic cells along with the presence of bile and pancreatic juice in your stomach can cause dyspepsia or indigestion.
- Severe & sharp abdominal pain with fever: The gallstones can block your bile ducts in severe conditions and can cause severe and sharp pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. The blockage of bile ducts can lead to a sudden onset of fever.
- Jaundice: Jaundice is a medical condition where your skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes turn to yellow. This can be an indication of gallstones in your bile ducts and high levels of bilirubin.
- Choledocholithiasis [Gallstones in the bile duct]: The bile duct is a small tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the intestine. The blockage of bile ducts by gallstones is called choledocholithiasis, and you may suffer from severe pain in the abdomen, jaundice, fever, clay-colored stools, and loss of appetite.
- Cholecystitis [Gallbladder inflammation]: In severe medical conditions, you may suffer from inflammation of the gallbladder that causes bloating, abdominal cramps, and yellowing of the eyes. If not treated, this condition can be life-threatening.
- Gallbladder polyps: You may develop gallbladder polyps from several factors. These polyps can be non-cancerous at the initial stages and can become cancerous over a period and can spread to other organs of the body leading to death.
- Pancreatitis [Inflammation of the pancreas]: You may suffer from pancreatitis all of a sudden or it may prevail over many years. Major causes of pancreatitis are gallstones and heavy alcohol use.
In general, to remove the gallbladder, surgeons all over the world use two methods. One is open gallbladder removal surgery [Open Cholecystectomy]
and another one is laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery [Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy].
Open gallbladder removal surgery is performed by making a large single incision on the abdomen. Then, the gallbladder is located and removed. After that, the incision is closed with stitches.
In laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery, few small cuts are made on your abdomen. Then, a laparoscope and other medical instruments are sent inside the body to locate and cut off the gallbladder.
Most of the surgeons recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder over open surgery because of its benefits like:
- Safe and advanced treatment
- Faster recovery of the patient
- Less hospital stay
- Formation of a scar is rare due to few and smaller cuts
- No loss of tissue or skin
- Less risk of infection
- Faster healing of the stitches
- Same-day discharge
Both open and laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery has few risks and they are:
- Leakage of bile
- Infection of other organs
- Bleeding from the site of surgery
- Injury to nearby structures, such as the bile duct, liver, and small intestine
- formation of blood clots
- Risk of pneumonia
All the risks and complications may depend on your overall health and the experience of the surgeon in performing gallbladder removal surgery.
Gallbladder removal surgery can relieve the pain and discomfort of gallstones. In most cases, this surgery can prevent the recurrence of gallstones. Once the gallbladder is removed, you may experience occasional loose stool which resolves over time. You can go back to daily activities within a few days after laparoscopic surgery. Those undergoing open surgery may need a week or more to recover enough to return to work.
If any changes in your bowel habits or new symptoms after the surgery, contact your doctor immediately and seek medical attention.