If you have gallstones and your doctor recommended surgery, I’m sure you have all sorts of questions. Hopefully this will help you decide whether surgery is the right option for you.
Why Gallbladder Surgery?
The gallbladder is that part of your digestive system that stores concentrated bile secreted through the cystic duct, into the common bile duct, and into the small intestines. When you develop disorders such as gallstones or tumors that obstruct the flow, a narrowing of the ducts, or infection, gallbladder removal surgery, or cholecystectomy is recommended. This is the surgical removal of the gallbladder.
Gallstones can cause pain, called biliary colic, in the upper right abdomen. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, increased risk of liver infection, and bacterial infection that can spread to the bloodstream. Gallstone surgery has been the common treatment to avoid these complications.
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Types of Gall Bladder Surgery
Options for gallstones surgery include the older open surgery, and the newer laparoscopic gallbladder surgery.
In the past, gall bladder removal surgery was performed as an open cholecystectomy. In this type of surgery, the surgeon makes an incision of about two to three inches, depending on previous lab tests and imaging. The surgeon locates the pear-shaped gallbladder by retracting the liver for better exposure. He then separates it from the cystic duct and artery, and removes the organ through the incision.
With the laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure, several small incisions, three to four, are made to allow surgical tubes into your body. These tubes are about 5 to 10 millimeters in diameter where surgical instruments and a video camera are passed through. Similarly, the gallbladder is located and identified. The cystic duct as well as artery are clipped and cut. The gallbladder is then dissected and removed through one of the ports.
Gallbladder Surgery Video
Here is a video demonstration of the lap chole procedure. Some parts may be a little graphic for sensitive viewers.
How Long Does Gallbladder Surgery Take?
The time to have surgery may vary, depending on your particular case, and also depending on the type of gallbladder surgery to be performed. Patients that are generally healthy will usually have a lap cholecystectomy that has smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time. Patients with other risks such as hypertension or diabetes may need a longer time to recover.
Also, an open surgery has bigger incisions and requires longer recovery time. Both surgeries usually have a pre-operative procedure, placement of anesthesia, the actual surgery, and a post recovery stage. Some patients who underwent laparoscopic gallbladder removal were able to complete the whole operation in 4 to 8 hours and go home on the same day. Some patients who had open cholecystectomy had to stay in the hospital for at least five days.
Gallbladder Surgery Cost
The cost of gallbladder surgery varies, depending on the type of cholecystectomy, your duration of hospital stay, presence of complications, and even the geographic location where the procedure is performed. The surgery may consist of several fees, such as the physician’s fee and routine postoperative checkup, the cost for removing the gallbladder, and the hospital admission.
Typically, doctor’s fees range from 2000 to 3000 dollars. The gall bladder operation costs between 1000 dollars to 2000 dollars. Hospital stay averages in the US for about 1800 dollars per day. However, there are still the laboratory tests and scanning to be considered, as well as the anesthesia and anesthesiologist’s fees. Some hospitals in Chicago and Miami offer a lower price than hospitals in Los Angeles and New York.
Gallbladder Surgery Pictures
Here are some pictures of gallstone removal surgery in action. Sorry if these images are too graphic for you.
What to Expect After Gallbladder Surgery
Post gallbladder surgery, doctors will recommend some recovery time. Typically, activity will be limited immediately after surgery. Depending on how you feel, the doctor may prescribe pain medications. A few days after, you will have to return for checkup and removal of the dressings. Your doctor then may give recommendations when to resume normal activities.
Life after gallbladder removal will be slightly different. Your digestive system may take a few days before it feels normal again. Some changes that can occur are feelings of bloating, occasional abdominal pain, and/or a change in toilet habits. Reports of about 20 percent develop chronic diarrhea, and a smaller percentage develop postcholecystectomy syndrome. However, complications such as wound infection are rare and easily avoided.
A diet after gallbladder removal is not standard. Doctors recommend eating smaller frequent meals, to avoid fatty and greasy foods, including sauces and gravies. Living without a gallbladder may require you to increase fiber intake, and to minimize caffeine and dairy, as you may find it hard to digest these after a gallbladder surgery.