Gallbladder Removal Surgery

Patients can live a normal life without a gallbladder. The gallbladder is located next to the liver and merely stores the bile fluid that the liver makes. Your gallbladder releases stored bile into the common bile duct which flows into the small intestine. Bile is used in the small intestine to help digest fatty meals. After the gallbladder is removed, bile flows directly from the liver down the common bile duct into the small intestine. Gallstones can be present inside the gallbladder which can cause problems. The most common problem that gallstones can cause for patients is abdominal pain. This pain is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen and can occur after eating food that contains fat. This type of pain is called biliary colic.

Gallstones in the gallbladder can cause pain in the upper abdomen.

Gallstones can cause more serious problems as well. Inflammation of the gallbladder, or cholecystitis, can occur when a stone blocks the neck of the gallbladder. Some other serious complications of gallstones include inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis, and infection of the bile which is called cholangitis. Pancreatitis and cholangitis are emergency situations that occur when gallstones move out of the gallbladder and end up in the common bile duct.

The best treatment for gallstones which cause colic, pancreatitis, or cholangitis is removal of the gallbladder. This surgery is called a cholecystectomy, and is usually done laparoscopically with small incisions. Under certain circumstances, a larger incision may be required if the surgery cannot safely be done laparoscopically. Often, an x-ray ofthe bile duct is performed  which is called a cholangiogram to determine if any stones are present in the bile duct. Removal of the gallbladder is one of the most common procedures done by general surgeons. Robotic surgery has allowed for new techniques in laparoscopic gallbladder surgery as well.