A very small organ that can become one big pain.
By Dr. Abhishek Gupta, Bronson General Surgery, Bronson Battle Creek Hospital
As seen in Scene Magazine, July 2019
Abhishek Gupta, DO
The gallbladder is a small organ located under the liver and next to the pancreas. The gallbladder’s job is to store bile produced by the liver. When we eat fatty food, the gallbladder contracts, releasing this bile into the small intestine. This aids in the processing of the fat that we have just eaten. The more fat that is eaten, the more bile the gallbladder releases.
If all is working as it should, your gallbladder quietly goes about its mission with little fanfare. However, the chemical balance of the bile can change, causing gallstones to form. These stones, which vary in size, can cause a blockage in the duct connecting the gallbladder and the small intestine.
This blockage can create a sense of pressure, pain in the upper-right abdomen, and nausea. Indigestion can result after eating foods high in fat or protein. Vomiting, fever and chills are other symptoms that may be associated with a gallbladder attack. Episodes can reoccur and last from 30 minutes to several hours.
Unfortunately, these symptoms can easily be mistaken for other digestive issues. Some people with gallstones do not realize they have them. Most cases of gallstones are uncovered when patients undergo certain diagnostic tests, like an ultrasound or CT scan.
Once diagnosed with gallstones, surgical removal of the gallbladder is the most advantageous solution. Because the liver produces bile on its own, individuals are able to live without their gallbladder. Surgically removing the gallbladder puts an end to gallstone attacks and eliminates the risk of future complications that might reoccur if the gallbladder remains in place. The surgical removal of your gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy.
At Bronson General Surgery, we have three different surgical options to remove the gallbladder. The open cholecystectomy involves an approximately six-inch abdominal incision. Because this is the most invasive type of cholecystectomy, and involves a longer hospital stay and recovery period, it is only performed when circumstances dictate. Full recovery from an open cholecystectomy can take up to six weeks.
Instead the go to options for gallbladder removal are laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that involves a surgeon making four small incisions through which surgical tools and a camera are inserted into the abdomen in order to remove the gallbladder. Similarly, robotic-assisted surgery involves a small incision. The difference is that, with robotic-assisted surgery, it involves just one or two small incisions.
Patients undergoing laparoscopic or robotic assisted surgery can often go home the same day. They are generally able to eat and drink normally and move about without assistance. Under normal circumstances, work can be resumed after just a few days and patients fully recover in about a week.
No matter which type of cholecystectomy is chosen, most patients do not experience any ongoing issues after undergoing the surgery. Best of all, the reoccurring pain associated with gallbladder attacks is a thing of the past.
If you have any questions about the gallstones or gallbladder surgery, talk with your primary care provider or call Bronson General Surgery in Battle Creek at (269) 245-8310.
Abhishek Gupta, DO, is a board certified general surgeon at Bronson General Surgery in Battle Creek. He enjoys sharing information with both his patients and the public. He always focuses on helping his patients to understand their diagnosis and the treatment options available to them.