Gallbladder stone surgery: What are the risks? 

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The gallbladder is an essential organ in human physiology as it is responsible for the optimal functioning of the digestive system. Often serving as the reservoir for bile, an enzyme responsible for facilitating digestion, this pear-shaped organ is vital for overall health and well-being.

Like other body organs, this is also prone to complications varying in type and intensity. One of the most common complications associated with the gallbladder is the gallstones. Gallstones are essentially referred to as the build-up of an excess of bile, bilirubin or cholesterol in the bile duct. Gallstones prevent the appropriate flow of bile to the small intestine from the liver through the bile duct that may have severe symptoms and challenges.

Gallbladder stones: Signs and symptoms

Some of the tell-tale signs and symptoms of gallbladder stones are:

  • Persistent Abdominal Pain: While abdominal pain can be attributed to several factors, gallstones can be the key factor. Abdominal pain that is followed by heavy meals that persist for a couple of hours and goes away on its own is a clear indicator of gallstones.
  • Pancreatitis: It is a condition of inflammation in the pancreas often caused due to the development of gallstones.
  • Nausea: It is a common symptom associated with a myriad of health conditions and complications. This being said, it is often a clear indicator of gallbladder problems. The sensation of nausea may be mild or chronic and often followed by frequent bouts of vomiting. Immediate medical attention should be sought after if the situation tends to worsen.
  • Weight fluctuation: Given the fast-paced and sedentary lifestyle, fluctuations in body weight is common. Obese individuals are more at risk of developing gallstones. On the contrary, instant weight loss might also be accompanied by gallstones.

Now that we have covered the causes and symptoms of gallstones, let’s deep dive into the treatment options recommended.

The gallbladder is an essential organ, however, if the gallbladder problems are leading to other life-threatening medical conditions, a surgical intervention to remove the gallbladder is often recommended by the expert healthcare professionals. Rest assured, the removal of the gallbladder won’t have adverse impacts on the body’s functioning and overall well-being. The gallbladder’s function of bile creation and storage will be taken over by the liver.

Here are some of the common types of gallbladder stone surgery.

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: This is otherwise referred to as the “keyhole surgery”. This surgical intervention involves smaller incisions rather than wider ones in the abdominal region. A thin tube containing light and video equipment is inserted through the incision to enable the surgeon with a better view of the gallbladder. Then, specialized equipment will be inserted to remove the diseased gallbladder. This surgical intervention requires the administration of general anaesthesia and might not lead to chronic pains post-surgery.

Open Surgery: The name might sound confusing and scary. During this procedure, the surgeon makes a 5 to 7-inch-deep incision in the upper abdominal region to remove the gallbladder. This surgery is recommended for patients with bleeding complications. Patients who are overweight or especially women in their final trimester of pregnancy are recommended to opt for this surgery.

Though surgery is the ultimate treatment option, your healthcare provider will administer you with blood tests, ultrasound, MRI HIDA, and endoscopic ultrasonography to understand if the surgery is actually essential. No matter what the doctors or the medical literature say, there are risks associated with gallbladder stone surgery.

Surgery risks

Here are some of the common risks associated with gallbladder surgeries: 

  • Potential damage to the bile duct, liver or small intestine
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling and infection
  • Bile leakages
  • Heart complications
  • Pneumonia and other associated breathing issues
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis or blood clots in the veins in the lower limbs

For more queries on gallbladder stone surgery, do get expert advice from the Narayana Health team!

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