Do you need gallbladder surgery? If you have gallstones in your gallbladder or bile duct, large gallbladder polyps, or pancreas inflammation from gallstones, there is a chance you will.
In this blog, we start from the beginning, explaining exactly what a gallbladder does and why it might give you issues, before going on to cover when you should call a doctor, and when you require gallbladder surgery.
What Does your Gallbladder Do?
The gallbladder is a small organ which is ‘pear shaped’. It is located on the abdomen’s right side, beneath the liver. The gallbladder performs the function of holding bile, a digestive fluid, which is released into the small intestine. Before a meal, your gallbladder is typically full of bile, whereas after the meal, the gallbladder may be empty and flat.
Effectively a small pouch, the gallbladder squeezes the bile it stores into the small intestine via a series of tubes known as ducts. While bile assists in digesting fats, the gallbladder is actually not essential and normally there are no problems following gallbladder removal surgery.
Reasons your gallbladder may give you issues
There are several conditions involving the gallbladder. Let’s go through some of them:
This happens when substances in the bile crystalise, forming gallstones. This is a common condition which is generally harmless, although gallstones can cause pain, inflammation and nausea sometimes.
This is an infection of the gallbladder which can be caused by a gallstone. The condition can cause fever and severe pain.
This is an impacted gallstone which blocks the ducts which perform the function of draining the pancreas. It can lead to inflammation of the pancreas which is a serious condition.
a rare condition which can be hard to diagnose and is usually found at later stages of development when symptoms arise.
When should I call a doctor about my gallbladder?
Gallstone symptoms can arise when they have become inflamed and are lodged in one of the bile ducts. This obstruction can cause symptoms such as; the yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice); shivering; fever; severe pain in the upper right abdomen and possibly lower back; ‘clay’ coloured stools; or dark urine.
You should call your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms above, as this could be a sign of acute gallbladder obstruction or acute gallbladder infection.
When do you require gallbladder surgery?
also known as a cholecystectomy – may be recommended for frequently recurring gallstones. The gallbladder can be removed, allowing bile to flow directly from the liver into the small intestine. This won’t typically affect your digestion of food, but it can cause temporary diarrhoea.
Most people with gallbladder inflammation need to have gallbladder removal surgery. This is because although some treatments can be effective in reducing inflammation, it often returns.
which are common, small tissue growths with a stalk that protrudes from the gallbladder’s lining – are usually benign in nature, and gallbladder removal surgery is typically recommended only for cases in which there is a high chance of cancer, or if there are gallstones.
Gallbladder removal surgery is usually minimally invasive (a laparoscopic cholecystectomy) and involves a private GI surgeon making small incisions in the abdomen before a small camera is inserted to help guide the procedure. Small surgical tools are used to remove the gallbladder before the incisions are closed using sutures. This type of procedure usually takes between one and two hours to complete.
In the case of complications or the presence of scar tissue from past operations, an open cholecystectomy, involving a much larger incision, may be required. A GI surgeon typically makes the incision below the ribs in the abdomen on your right side.