The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped internal organ, located on the underside of the liver, with the primary function of storing bile. The liver produces bile and the gallbladder stores it, releasing it as needed for digesting fats.
Unfortunately, the gallbladder does not always function efficiently. Blockages may develop and gallstones may form – hard deposits of various sizes that get stuck inside the gallbladder. Gallstones can cause abdominal pain, infection, bloating, nausea and vomiting.
When is gallbladder removal performed?
Physicians perform gallbladder removal surgery when patients have pain or other symptoms caused by gallstones or a gallbladder that is not functioning as it should.
Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) may be recommended for a patient who has:
- Gallstones in the gallbladder
- Gallstones in the bile duct
- Inflammation of the gallbladder
- Inflammation of the pancreas
Common symptoms of gallbladder problems that may require surgery include:
- Indigestion (heartburn, gas, and bloating)
- Pain after eating (usually in the upper right or upper middle portion of the belly)
- Nausea and vomiting
Types of Gallbladder Removal Surgery
Gallbladder removal can be safely performed with two different surgical techniques – laparoscopic and open. After thorough examination, Dr. Gritsus will recommend the most appropriate surgical approach for you.
Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal
This is the most commonly performed gallbladder removal surgery. It is less invasive with less risk and downtime than open gallbladder removal.
In this procedure, the surgeon makes 3 or 4 small incisions in the abdomen, and inserts medical instruments through the incisions. One of the instruments is a laparoscope – a viewing tube with a tiny camera on the eyepiece which enables the surgeon to examine the abdominal and pelvic organs.
Gas is pumped into the area to create more room for the surgeon to see and work. Using the laparoscope and other instruments, the surgeon gently removes the gallbladder. During the surgery, dye may be injected into the common bile duct and an x-ray taken to find gallstones that may be located outside the gallbladder.
Open Gallbladder Removal
Open gallbladder surgery is typically performed when laparoscopic surgery cannot be safely done. In this procedure, the surgeon makes a 5- to 7-inch incision in the upper right portion of the abdomen, just below the ribs. The surgeon cuts the bile duct and blood vessels leading to the gallbladder and gently removes the gallbladder from the body. An X-ray may be taken to locate additional gallstones.