By Dr. Prashanth Hegde, General Surgery
Your gallbladder plays a very important role in your digestive health. It collects and stores a liquid called bile, which helps your body to digest food. You might need to have your gallbladder removed if it becomes diseased or damaged, or if you have gallstones (made from the chemicals in bile).
There are two main surgical techniques used to remove the gallbladder-
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy - your gallbladder is removed through small puncture holes in your abdomen (tummy). This is called keyhole surgery and is the most common method.
- Open cholecystectomy - your gallbladder is removed through one large cut in your abdomen and is called open surgery. You might have this option if you’ve got another condition, are pregnant or have any complications.
Firstly X-rays are used to determine the anatomy of your abdomen during the planning of the surgery. During the surgery, an incision is made on the abdomen first. The surgeon then pumps carbon dioxide or air into your abdomen to inflate it, which enables him/her to see properly. A video camera is inserted into the incision so that it guides the surgeon to the problem areas and help the doctors remove either the stones or the gallbladder itself.
Post Surgery Changes-The body will go through certain changes after the surgery and will be unable to retain bile (a fluid secreted by the liver which is used for digestion) when it is not being used for digestion. However, this does not affect digestion. After the gall bladder surgery, symptoms such as bloating, gas, pain and diarrhea can arise and persist for a few days. This is also called postcholecystectomy syndrome.
What are the risks of gallbladder surgery?
- Internal bleeding.
- If proper care is not taken, infection can arise from the incision made in the abdomen.
- The bile duct used by multiple common organs can be injured.
- The small intestine can be injured during surgery as well.
- In rare cases, bile can leak into the cavity of the abdomen.
- The major blood vessel known as the hepatic artery which carries blood from the heart to the pancreas and liver can get punctured.
- The liver can also accidentally get cut if the surgery is performed by an inexperienced doctor.
Gallbladder surgery is a fairly common surgery and has very high success rates. The surgery only takes about a couple of hours or even lesser. It usually takes around two weeks to return to your normal activities. Dissolvable stitches are used on the incisions made on the abdomen, which will also start to disappear within a week or two. Doctors recommend the patients to stay in the hospital for about 3 to 5 days after the surgery for observation.