Gallbladder Surgery - The Nebraska Medical Center

By: Nebraska Medicine

The gallbladder is an organ that sits on the right side of your abdomen underneath the liver. Your liver makes bile which is stored in your gallbladder and then when you eat, especially greasy food a chemical gets released from your intestine which causes your gallbladder to contract. Your gallbladder is supposed to squeeze the bile out drains down into your intestine and acts sort of like soap in a sink full of dirty dishes; it helps imulsify the grease or fat in your intestinal tract. A variety of things can go wrong with the gallbladder. Most commonly people form gall stones.

This is more common in women, and it's more common in pregnancy. But plenty of guys can have gallbladder problems too. When people form stones, the gallbladder contracts and the stones can get stuck in the outlet to the gallbladder and then it causes cramping, abdominal pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Sometimes it radiates to the back and sometimes people will develop nausea and vomitting. If the stone gets stuck in the outlet of the gallbladder people will have a gallbladder attack that will not go away and they will probably end up in the emergency room. It's pretty easy to make the diagnosis based on the history and then we do an ultrasound of the right upper quandrant and we can see gallstones. If people have symptoms of right side upper abdominal pain which seems to occur with meals, then the HIDA scan is a test we can do to see how the gallbladder functions. And if it's not functioning right, those people can often have their symptoms relieved by having their gallbladder out.

Gallbladder surgery is a fairly easy surgery to undergo as far as surgeries go. It's safe, it's minimally invasive and people can come into the hospital, have surgery and leave the same day. I've had patients who go back to work the next day. I wouldn't say that's typical. Most people take a week or two off from surgery. All the stitches are underneath the skin so there's no suchers going through the skin, there's just glue on their incision so people can shower the next day. There's no dressing care required.

Most of the time, people can eat whatever they want after they have their gallbladder out. Sometimes people will have problems with greasy foods a week to three weeks after surgery, but typically people can get back to eating whatever they want or what they were eating before, but now not have the pain they were having. For people who have gallstones and are having abdominal pain, we recommend they have their gallbladder removed. The stones can be the source of the pain they're having. Passing a gall stone is not like passing a kidney stone. Should the stone get out of the gallbladder, it can get stuck in a variety of places including the bile ducts or the pancreatic ducts.

Gallbladder Surgery - The Nebraska Medical Center

People can develop pancreatitis or become jaundiced, turn yellow when a stone falls out of the gallbladder. So whereas people have a kidney stone, we can give them fluids and let them pass it, with gall stones, we don't want them to pass it. Anybody who's having abdominal pain and has stones on an ultrasound, we're going to recommend having their gallbaldder out. If people have gall stones and they're having symptoms from their gall stones, I'd much rather them come in and have their gallbladder out sooner than later. There are a lot of complications that can occur by them not having their gallbladder out.

The more gallbladder attacks you have, the more scar tissue you get around your gallbladder and your gallbladder can get scarred to your bile ducts. It can be a much more difficult for somebody who's had multiple gallbladder attacks. Most people who've had their gallbladder out don't have any problems ongoing from that point. There's a small percentage of people who may develop diarrhea, but it's a small percentage. This is a fairly easy surgery to do laparoscopically, very well tolerated the complications from surgery are low, the recovery is not bad at all. I think this is a great operation.

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