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Gall Bladder Surgery

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Removal of the gallbladder is one of the most common surgeries performed in Kern County and around the country. The gallbladder can be removed either for stones or four dysfunction of the gallbladder. Gallbladder disease it is extremely common in large portion of our population. Classically gallbladder problems are associated with female sex age over 40 being slightly overweight having had children and also having symptoms of gassiness.

Many people who suffer from gallbladder disease have been suffering for many years not knowing that the gallbladder was the culprit the whole time. Symptoms of gallbladder disease are pain in the upper abdomen in the center or around both rib cages often times isolated to the right side and radiating to the back shoulders, sternum or neck. This pain is often associated with nausea with or without vomiting and more often than not bloating and gassiness as well as feelings of feeling full with just a small amount of food being ingested. The symptoms can be worse with fatty or rich meals though can occur with any kind of food ingestion.

Patients can sometimes also have a loose bowel movements associated with the symptoms. Patients complain of not feeling right tiredness and having symptoms of a sensitive stomach for many years before gallbladder disease is diagnosed. Often times patients learn to just deal with their symptoms and attribute them to getting older or just having other problems that this are associated with it. Even in patients who claim to have no symptoms upon further questioning often times have been having minor symptoms for many years that were just not recognized as gallbladder symptoms. These includes symptoms of gastritis heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome.

Gallbladder problems are usually diagnosed by either ultrasound CT scan or HIDA scan. Diagnosis of gallstones versus a non-functioning gallbladder yield different outcomes. There are many things that contribute to gallstone formation including genetic factors, female sex hormones, changes in pregnancy and rapid weight loss. Once gallstones are formed they can block the exit of the gallbladder when it is trying to expel bile. This leads to pain when the gallbladder is stimulated usually by a fatty meal and can lead to a gallbladder attack or some of the minor symptoms associated with gallbladder disease. Removal of the gallbladder when gallstones are present almost always relieves the preoperative symptoms.

Gallstones can be potentially dangerous as they can travel especially if they are small and block the common bile duct. When this happens it can lead to jaundice and in certain circumstances pancreatitis which can be quite severe and in rare cases fatal. Occasionally this may require a procedure known as an ERCP prior to surgery. The gallbladder also can function improperly waiting for similar symptoms. It’s unclear why the gallbladder may not function properly. This may be related to polyps in the gallbladder, having gallbladder sludge or changes in weight. In addition problems with the sphincter can also lead to problems symptoms with gallbladder pain.

Removal of the gallbladder in these situations leads to good results; however, they are not as good as when the diagnosis is that of gallstones. Often times the source of gallbladder dysfunction is not clear or able to be determined. However even most people who have their gallbladders out for a non-functioning gallbladder or sub-optimal functioning gallbladder still get good relief with gallbladder removal. Gallbladder surgery is performed as a rule via laparoscopically or robotically. Laparoscopic surgery is performed through for small incisions and is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. Robotically this can be performed through several small incisions or single larger incision at the belly button. Most people are back to work within one to two weeks and most feel an improvement almost immediately. It may take several weeks to feel significant improvement for a dysfunctional gallbladder. The risks are relatively minimal and can be discussed at length during consultation.