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The gallbladder is a small organ located beneath the right lobe of the liver. Its function is to store the bile made by the liver. Once you eat or drink, your body will secret the stored bile to digest these foods. Problems with the gallbladder are common thus making this operation the most commonly performed general surgery.
These issues occur from a variety problems. Most notably, the gallbladder can form gallstones, can become infected or become weakened and fail to function properly.
If the gallbladder becomes weak, sick or has stones, this can cause symptoms such as pain, nausea or vomiting and even diarrhea.
Stones can form in the gallbladder when concentrations of cholesterol and bile salts become overwhelming. Poor function is a condition is known as biliary dyskinesia. This condition can often be difficult to diagnosis and thus difficult to treat. The gallbladder can even become infected or inflamed. This is known as cholecystitis.
Obstruction of the gallbladder due to stones or biliary dyskinesia results in pain in the right upper abdomen or even radiate to the back. If stones escape the gallbladder they can cause obstructions in the main bile duct and also in the pancreas. Obstruction in these areas can cause jaundice, liver dysfunction, and potentially severe infections in the bile duct and pancreas.
Gallbladder issues can be serious and should not be taken lightly. If you have any of the above issues, surgery may be required. This procedure is generally performed using 3 or 4 small incisions to remove the gallbladder.
Occasionally if there are stones in the main bile duct another procedure may be necessary to remove them. Usually this can be done with an endoscope passed down the patient’s mouth by a GI doctor.
While a laparoscopic cholecystectomy is an extremely common operation and has low risk of peri-operative problems, there can be complications as with any operation.
Other risks include but are not limited to infection, bleeding, wound problems, damage to intra-abdominal structures, bile leak, fistula, retained stone, or failure to cure or relieve symptoms. Occasionally patients will experience transient diarrhea after surgery (post cholecystectomy diarrhea) This will almost always resolve on its own but occasionally requires medical treatment.