What Are The Potential Risks Of Gallbladder Removal Surgery?

Around 1 in 10 adults in the UK suffer from gallstones. This can eventually lead to requiring either an NHS or private gallbladder surgery, in which a trained GI surgeon removes the organ. Risks are a part of life, and surgical procedures are not exempt from this fact.

As with any surgery, there is a small chance of experiencing complications from gallbladder removal surgery and we believe that patients need to be made aware of these risk factors. In this blog post, we will provide a detailed overview of possible gallbladder removal surgery risks.

1. Infection

Potentially harmful microorganisms can spread to the patient, during or after any kind of surgery. However, the majority of infections occur post-surgery and at the surgical site (in this case where your gallbladder used to be). Infected patients can develop symptoms such as swelling, redness and pus leakage.

The infection can go away on its own or after a course of antibiotics. Factors affecting the risk of infection can include the duration of the surgery and hospital stay, underlying health conditions, or having a weakened immune system. Statistics indicate that the chance of developing an infection from surgery is between 1 and 3%.

2. Bile leakage

After removing the gallbladder, a GI surgeon uses special clips to seal the cystic duct that connects the gallbladder and bile duct. Following this procedure, there is still a risk of bile leaking from the duct into the abdomen.

Patients with bile leakage may undergo symptoms of stomach pain, nausea, a swollen abdomen, or fever. A GI surgeon will perform a second surgery to drain this liquid. Note that the risk of bile leakage occurs in approximately 1% of gallbladder surgery cases.

3. Deep vein thrombosis

The GI surgeon will take into account the patient’s individual blood clotting risk before beginning surgery. Certain individuals are at greater risk, in particular, those who smoke, are overweight or use combined hormonal birth control. Deep vein thrombosis occurs in the leg vein and can be life-threatening, if not treated promptly.

People who have a high risk of blood clotting will be carefully observed during recovery, and if signs of blood clotting develop, the patient will receive immediate medical attention. High-risk patients are also given compression stockings that reduce swelling, thus decreasing their risk.

Overall, the risk of enduring complications from gallbladder removal surgery is rare. As long you are in the hands of a professional GI surgeon, who will take care of you before and after the procedure, then you will likely go through a successful operation.

If you have any questions or concerns about gallbladder surgery, do not hesitate to book a consultation with Dr Achal Khanna, award-winning upper GI surgeon and expert in gallbladder health. Contact the surgery now or call us on 01908 305 127.