Gallstones

    Gallstones are small stones made up of cholesterol or bilirubin (pigment of the bile) that can form in your gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small pear shaped organ located just below the stomach. It stores bile, a digestive fluid that helps to break down fatty foods. Gallstones are the most commonly occurring disorder of the gallbladder. Adults, especially women and people who are obese are more likely to get gallstones.

    People who have gallstones may experience nausea, vomiting, or pain in the abdomen, back, or just below the right arm. The exact cause of gallstones is not clear, but it is known that gallstones may result when bile contains too much cholesterol, too much bilirubin, or when the gallbladder does not empty completely.

    Your doctor may recommend imaging tests to diagnose gallstones and an abdominal ultrasound may be done to look for signs of gallstones. A hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan is a special dye injected to highlight the bile ducts and may be ordered to diagnose obstruction of bile ducts. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is used to discover and remove the gallstones

    Gallstones that do not cause any symptoms do not require any treatment. Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy) if your symptoms occur frequently. Cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder. It is either performed laparoscopically or through open surgery.

    Procedure

    Open or traditional surgery: This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon makes a single large incision in your abdomen and surgical instruments are inserted through this incision. Muscles and tissues are pulled back to expose the liver and gallbladder and then the gallbladder is removed. Later the incision is sutured and you will need to be in the hospital for almost 2 weeks.

    Laparoscopic surgery or keyhole surgery: Of all surgical procedures, for which laparoscopy is an option, cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) is the most widely recognized and accepted. Where there is inflammation and infection in the gallbladder (Cholecystitis), early removal of the gallbladder may be indicated. Using advanced laparoscopic technology, it is now possible to remove the gallbladder through tiny incisions in the front of the abdomen.

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