What is the gallbladder?
Your gallbladder is a small organ in your upper abdomen. The gallbladder collects and stores a liquid called bile that helps your body break down food. Small, hard deposits called gallstones can form in the gallbladder. This is a common condition.
What Causes Gallbladder Problems?
Gallstones are often the cause. They can also get into the bile duct, which connects the gallbladder with your intestines.
You are more likely to get gallstones if you:
- Are a woman,
- Have had children,
- Are overweight, or
- Are over 40.
You might also get gallstones if other people in your family had them.
What are the symptoms of gallbladder problems?
- Sharp pain in your abdomen,
- Nausea and vomiting,
- Fever, and
- Yellow skin – Jaundice is the medical term for skin and eyes that look yellow. You might get jaundice if gallstones block your bile duct.
How do doctors find gallbladder problems?
Your doctor will probably order a test called an ultrasound. It shows the inside of the body using sound waves.
How do doctors treat gallbladder problems?
Taking the gallbladder out is usually the best way to treat gallbladder problems. You might get some relief from changing your diet. For example, eating less fat can help. But gallstones rarely go away on their own.
What are the advantages of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery?
- Smaller incision – Several small incisions, each less than one 1.2 cm long, instead of may be more than 15 cm incision for open surgery.
- Less pain than after open surgery.
- Quicker recovery than open surgery – You might go home the same day you have your surgery. You can also go back to regular activities within a week
If you had an open surgery with a large incision, you need more time to recover. You will probably need to stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery. Expect to go back to full activities in 4 to 6 weeks.
What if I Cannot Have Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal?
A few people cannot have laparoscopic gallbladder removal. You might have open surgery if you are one of these people. Some reasons for having or switching to open surgery are:
- Your gallbladder has a lot of damage – Such as scars or inflammation.
- You have scar tissue in your abdomen from earlier surgery.
- You have obesity – This means being very overweight.
- The surgeon cannot see very well inside your body through the laparoscope.
- You have bleeding problems during surgery.
It is not a complication (problem) if your surgeon decides to switch to open surgery. They will switch if open surgery is the safest option for you. Your surgeon might not know this until after the laparoscopy starts. They will use their best judgment about the safest surgery for you.
What are the Possible Complications of Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal?
You will probably go back to normal activities within one week. Most people who have laparoscopic gallbladder removal have few complications or none at all.
They can include:
- infection in the surgery area,
- blood clots,
- and heart problems.
Most complications from gallbladder surgery are rare, which means they almost never happen.