The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ in the abdomen that produces, stores, and releases bile, a fluid produced by the liver that helps digest fats in the small intestine. If the bile in your gallbladder becomes chemically imbalanced, it can form into hardened particles that grow over time and eventually turn into gallstones.
When your gallbladder is not working correctly (biliary dyskinesia), these symptoms may occur:
Gallstones can be quite painful and, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications. For example, if the stones move to nearby bile ducts, they can cause blockages that lead to jaundice (the buildup of bile chemicals in the blood), or inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
Once gallstones have been identified, either through a CT or CAT scan, hepatobiliary (HIDA) scan, or other test, surgical removal of the gallbladder is usually the best option.
Patients with gallstones are also more likely to develop gallbladder cancer due to the increased exposure of gallbladder cells to toxins. However, this complication is very rare, and most gallstone patients never develop gallbladder cancer.
Gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) can be performed as an open surgery or laparoscopic surgery (pictured above.) Laparoscopic surgery offers a less invasive approach to gallbladder removal and allows for quicker healing time.
The easiest and common way to remove a gallbladder is with a laparoscope, a thin tube that is inserted into your belly through a small incision. The tube is lighted and a tiny TV camera inserted into it so the doctor can view your internal organs on a TV monitor.
Through a few other small incisions in your abdomen, the surgeon inserts medical instruments to remove the gallbladder. To make it easier to move instruments within your belly, it is inflated with gas.
Gallbladder surgery involves first cutting the bile duct and blood vessels attached to it. Then the gallbladder can be removed with the laparoscope.
Some dye is put into your common bile duct so a type of x-ray (cholangiogram) can see if other gallbladder stones are in it and should be removed. The bile duct is left inside your abdomen.
Gallbladder surgery is performed using general anesthesia, so you are asleep and unable to feel pain
Before surgery the surgeon will likely take tests:
On that day you have gallbladder surgery: