Your liver produces bile to help break down fats. If there’s any left over, the extra bile gets stored in your gallbladder, a small organ tucked underneath your liver. The next time you eat a particularly fatty meal, your gallbladder releases its bile store to help process the fat.
It’s a great system until something goes wrong — and it does in 20.5 million American adults. The gallbladder is notoriously inefficient, and it can cause more harm than good. When this happens, you need gallbladder surgery.
If your gallbladder needs to be removed, there’s no better place in Bakersfield, California, than at New Life Medical. Our Dr. Nirav Naik is the only surgeon in the area who performs this procedure using state-of-the-art, minimally invasive, robotic laparoscopic surgery.
To determine if your gallbladder is causing your symptoms and whether it’s time to have it removed, we’ve outlined the most common reasons here.
What could go wrong with your gallbladder?
Bile is a thick substance that tends to build up and block the duct where it empties out into your bloodstream. This creates a perfect environment for infection and other problems. Here are a few of the things that could go wrong with your gallbladder:
- Gallstones: hard deposits in your bile that range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball
- Choledocholithiasis: when a gallstone blocks the duct completely
- Cholecystitis: severe inflammation of the gallbladder
- Biliary dyskinesia: when your gallbladder malfunctions and doesn’t drain properly
Depending on the severity of your pain and how long you’ve been suffering, any of these conditions may warrant a cholecystectomy, which is the medical term for gallbladder removal.
Signs you should have your gallbladder removed
Regardless of which condition you have, the real indicator when it comes to deciding whether to remove the gallbladder is your level of pain and discomfort.
If your symptoms are mild and you’ve just started noticing them, you may be able to get relief by changing your diet. Eating foods lower in fat could be all it takes to give your gallbladder a break and reduce your symptoms. But if they persist or get worse, you may need to consider surgery.
Here are a few signs that your gallbladder isn’t improving:
- Sharp abdominal pain, especially if it radiates through your ribs and to your back
- Jaundice (yellow skin)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Chronic fatigue
- Bloating and sense of feeling stuffed
These symptoms are common to other medical conditions as well, so don’t assume you need a cholecystectomy until Dr. Naik gives you a definitive diagnosis.
How we diagnose gallbladder problems
Dr. Naik relies on his years of experience and medical expertise to accurately diagnose your gallbladder condition. He may use blood and urine tests to check your enzyme levels, ultrasound or X-rays to check for gallstones, a CT scan or MRI to check for gallstones or blockage, and endoscopic tests to detect for inflammation.
These tests help Dr. Naik rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Kidney stones
- Inflamed pancreas
Once you know for sure your gallbladder is the culprit, you can move forward with gallbladder removal if necessary.
Most people live a perfectly normal life without their gallbladder, although you may need to adjust your diet slightly. For instance, some people find it helpful to limit fatty foods (sausage, cheese, cream) and eat smaller meals. But some of our patients report that they can eat anything they want with no adverse effects.
If you’re experiencing any of the classic gallbladder symptoms we’ve listed and want to know whether it means you need to consider surgery to have your gallbladder removed, call us at 661-230-8306 to arrange a consultation with Dr. Naik today.