Gallbladder removal is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in Australia. Today, gallbladder surgery is performed laparoscopically. The medical name for this procedure is Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.
What is the gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver.
Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid (bile) produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating, aiding digestion. Bile travels through narrow tubular channels (bile ducts) into the small intestine.
What causes gallbladder problems?
Gallbladder problems are usually caused by the presence of gallstones: small hard masses consisting primarily of cholesterol and bile salts that form in the gallbladder or in the bile duct.
It is uncertain why some people form gallstones.
There is no known means to prevent gallstones.
These stones may block the flow of bile out of the gallbladder, causing it to swell and resulting in sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, indigestion and, occasionally, fever.
If the gallstone blocks the common bile duct, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) can occur.
How are these problems found and treated?
Ultrasound is most commonly used to find gallstones.
In a few more complex cases, other X-ray tests may be used to evaluate gallbladder disease.
Gallstones do not go away on their own. Some can be temporarily managed with drugs or by making dietary adjustments, such as reducing fat intake. This treatment has a low, short-term success rate. Symptoms will eventually continue unless the gallbladder is removed.
Surgical removal of the gallbladder is the time honored and safest treatment of gallbladder disease.
What are the advantages of performing the procedure laparoscopically?
Rather than a five to seven inch incision, the operation requires only four small openings in the abdomen.
Patients usually have minimal post-operative pain.
Patients usually experience faster recovery than open gallbladder surgery patients.
Most patients go home within one day and enjoy a quicker return to normal activities.
Are you a candidate for laparoscopic gallbladder removal?
Although there are many advantages to laparoscopy, the procedure may not be appropriate for some patients who have had previous upper abdominal surgery or who have some pre-existing medical conditions. A thorough medical evaluation by your personal physician, in consultation with a surgeon trained in laparoscopy, can determine if laparoscopic gallbladder removal is an appropriate procedure for you.