Gallbladder Surgery

An Overview of Gallbladder Surgery

When a Gallbladder Needs to be Removed

The gallbladder is located immediately below the liver on the right hand side of the body. The main purpose of this organ is to produce and store bile. Bile is a substance that is used in the digestive process, it helps to break down fats that will subsequently be absorbed.

While this organ will normally function properly, there are instances when gallbladder surgery may need to be performed, this is usually due to malfunctions in the gallbladder. The result is normally two conditions; an inflammation of the organ possibly leading to an infection or if the gallbladder bursts, internal sepsis and the more common development of a gallstone.

A gallstone is produced when liquid bile fails to be removed form the gallbladder and instead hardens into these "stones". The resulting pain can be considerable and may even damage the cystic duct that connects the gallbladder to the intestinal tract. Many have described this condition to be similar to the painful effects of kidney stones, but there is less likelihood that gallstones will be passed.

Conditions that require the removal of the gallbladder:
  • Painful inflammation.
  • The presence of gallstones.
  • The blockage of the cystic duct by gallstones.

How Gallbladder Surgery is Performed and the Risks Involved

The removal of a gallbladder is normally accomplished by a laparoscopic surgical technique. This is an inpatient procedure where the individual will first be sedated. An ultrasound or MRI will generally be performed to determine the extent of the disease, a small incision will then be made and the entire organ will be removed.

Antibiotics may be administered for a period of ten days and patients can be seen to be quite mobile soon after the surgery, however the healing time required is generally a few weeks. The body will naturally compensate for the loss of the organ, although diets may need to be modified.

Surgery step-by-step:
  • A non-invasive analysis of the gallbladder.
  • Sedation.
  • Laparoscopic surgical procedures.
  • The administration of antibiotics.
  • A possible change in one's diet.

Associated Risks

The most common risk after surgery is a post-surgical infection. Statistics show that approximately one in fifteen patients may develop a local infection of this type, often dictating the need for antibiotics.

Another variable may be the risk from the general sedatives used. Some may have adverse reactions and those with heart conditions or other medical disorders should be monitored carefully during the procedure.

Occasionally, bile may leak back into the abdominal cavity. Although such instances are rare, this can present the possibility for sepsis. A further procedure will be necessary to wash out the bile if this occurs.

Common risks:
  • An infection after the operation is completed.
  • Adverse reactions to sedatives.
  • The unintended leakage of bile into the abdominal cavity.