Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery: What You Need to Know

The gallbladder is a small organ located on the right side, just below the liver. It stores a small amount of bile to aid in digestion. When diseased, this small organ can cause severe symptoms.


What is Gallbladder Disease?

Gallbladder disease is a general term encompassing a variety of issues, including infection, inflammation, a blockage of the gallbladder and/or the presence of gallstones.

Types of Gallbladder Disease

Cholecystitis – when bile gets trapped within the gallbladder due to a blockage, it causes the organ to become inflamed and red. An infection may result. Cholecystitis can be acute or chronic.

Gallstones – these stones are created when bile hardens. The gallbladder may create a single stone or many small stones, or large and small stones at the same time. Gallstones can be as large as a golf ball or as tiny as a grain of sand. Gallstones have the potential to block the bile ducts, which can lead to life-threatening infections.

Chronic Acalculous Gallbladder Disease – the function necessary to empty the gallbladder is not working correctly.

Gangrene or Abscesses – when acute cholecystitis is left untreated, it may become severe. The inflammation can lead to the formation of abscesses or cause necrosis, which may result in gangrene (a life-threatening condition).

Tumors of the Gallbladder and Bile Ducts – if tumors form in the bile ducts and/or gallbladder, extrahepatic biliary obstruction becomes a concern. Although this condition can be asymptomatic, symptoms usually reflect those experienced when there is a biliary obstruction. Unfortunately, the prognosis is grim. However, mechanically draining the bile from the gallbladder can help relieve pain, pruritus and recurrent sepsis.

Congenital Defects of the Gallbladder – congenital anomalies of the gallbladder are rare. However, when an irregularity does occur, it may be accompanied by a variety of other malformations of the vascular or biliary tree.

Anomalies of the gallbladder may include:

  • Agenesis (no organ)
  • Duplicate (two organs)
  • Floating (wandering)
  • Torsion (twisted)
  • Phrygian Cap (deformity)
  • Septation (divided in two)
  • Ectopic

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) – a progressive and chronic disease of the bile duct system: This system is responsible for carrying bile from the liver and the gallbladder into the duodenum. Typically, in the early stages of this disease, PSC is asymptomatic; however, if an obstruction occurs, symptoms will result.

Symptoms of Gallbladder Disease

The most common symptom associated with gallbladder disease occurs intermittently and is referred to as biliary colic. Generally, the patient feels a steady gnawing or gripping pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen (near the rib cage). This pain can be severe and may radiate into the flank or back. Some patients experience nausea and/or vomiting as well as pain behind the breastbone.

The symptoms associated with acute cholecystitis are similar to those experienced with biliary colic; however, the pain is unrelenting and more intense. The pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen may remain constant. Typically, the pain will worsen when the patient takes a breath. Fever and chills can indicate severe disease.

Gallstones lodged in the bile duct may mimic the symptoms produced when stones are lodged in the gallbladder itself; however, they may also cause jaundice, a rapid heartbeat, drop in blood pressure, light stools and/or dark urine, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting as well as severe pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen. Infection caused by bile duct obstruction is called Cholangitis, and can be life-threatening.

Chronic gallbladder disease may cause the organ to become scarred and stiff. Symptoms of this condition include abdominal discomfort, flatulence, chronic diarrhea and nausea following meals.

What is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery?

Cholecystectomy – when the gallbladder is causing symptoms removal is the only safe option for relief. At The Surgery Group, we frequently perform this procedure laparoscopically and as an outpatient procedure.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ECRP) – during this procedure, physicians use an endoscope and X-ray to remove small stones trapped in the bile ducts. This procedure does not require any incisions; instead, the tube is carefully directed into the mouth and down the esophagus, through the stomach and into the duodenum. A small tube containing the contrast dye will be passed through the endoscope and injected into the bile ducts. This dye allows the Surgeon to clearly see the bile ducts and any retained stones so they can be removed.

Benefits of Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery

Conventional gallbladder surgery usually requires that a patient remains in the hospital for two or three days: Once the patient returns home, a full recovery can take up to six weeks. When compared to conventional surgery, laparoscopic surgery offers numerous benefits to the patient: Most of the time, the patient can return home as soon as he or she can consume foods and beverages, and walk around unaided. Usually on the same day as surgery. Furthermore, recovery time is drastically reduced, lasting only a few days.

Why Choose The Surgery Group?

At The Surgery Group, whenever possible, we perform minimally invasive procedures instead of open surgeries. The medical professionals and Board-Certified Surgeons at The Surgery Group are dedicated to providing each of our patients with the quality medical care that they deserve. We ensure our patients receive the most current, state-of-the-art care by continually remaining abreast of the changes occurring within our industry.

If you need gallbladder surgery, contact The Surgery Group today at 850.444.4777. We serve the residents of Northwest Florida, Southwest Alabama (Gulf Coast) and surrounding regions.