Gallbladder disease is common. Usual symptoms include upper abdominal or chest pain, upset stomach, upper abdominal bloating and nausea. Sometimes the pain radiates into your back or shoulder area. Most symptoms occur following eating, especially fatty or greasy meals. Symptoms may occur due to gallbladder dysfunction or from gallstones that develop within the gallbladder. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, treatment may entail diet modifications or surgery to remove your gallbladder. Even without your gallbladder, your digestive system can still function perfectly normal.
To determine if you have gallbladder disease, we recommend an ultrasound to look at the gallbladder. Most times, this test can be ordered by your primary care provider or walk-in clinics/emergency departments prior to your visit with a surgeon. An additional ultrasound may be needed to look at the function of the gallbladder by administering a synthetic hormone to cause gallbladder contraction. If either of these tests are abnormal, you should schedule an appointment with a surgeon to determine the next appropriate step. Additional labs, diagnostic imaging or endoscopy may be needed.
Gallbladders are usually removed with minimal invasive surgery. This involves placement of 4 small incisions in the abdomen. Through these small port sites, laparoscopic instruments for retraction and dissection are placed along with a laparoscopic camera. The gallbladder is freed from the liver and its attachments to the bile ducts that drain the liver. Following removal, the gallbladder along with any gallstones are placed in a bag to be removed from the umbilical incision. All incisions are closed with absorbable sutures. Typical surgery lasts around 45 minutes.
Surgery can be done in an outpatient setting at either a surgery center or hospital outpatient surgery department. Following surgery, patients are discharged to home. Routine discharge instructions are sent home providing instructions for wound care, diet, activity, and medication instructions. Pain medications are electronically prescribed to your pharmacy. Usually patients have a mild degree of pain for the first few days and resolves completely in the first 1-2 weeks. Patients usually take a few days off from work to recover from surgery. Dr. Biggs will see you back in the office about 2 weeks after surgery to make sure you have fully recovered from your surgery.