Your gallbladder is a small organ that’s surprisingly nonessential. Its main job is to produce bile, a greenish-yellow fluid that helps you digest your food. If you’ve ever vomited while your stomach was empty, you may have seen bile come up and tasted its bitterness.
Situated in your upper right abdomen, your gallbladder usually functions without a problem, and you probably never give it a thought. But when things go wrong, you can’t think about anything else.
Dr. Nirav Naik at New Life Medical in Bakersfield, California, specializes in conditions that affect the gallbladder, and he can help you determine whether your symptoms are mild or serious and if surgery is right for you.
What can go wrong with the gallbladder
Gallbladder issues can be mild and temporary. For example, if you eat a large, high-fat meal, such as fried chicken with french fries, it can overtax your gallbladder and cause pain. In this case, the symptoms typically subside after you’ve digested the food.
Beyond these occasional bouts, other gallbladder problems include:
Depending on the exact problem, Dr. Naik may treat you with antibiotics to fight off infection. He may also recommend a low-fat diet and prescribe medication to prevent or dissolve gallstones.
When is gallbladder surgery necessary?
Whenever possible, Dr. Naik treats your gallbladder to delay or avoid gallbladder surgery, but there are times when surgical intervention becomes necessary, such as in the following cases:
Your symptoms are severe
If your gallbladder issues are causing severe symptoms, such as sharp, persistent pain, nausea and vomiting, fever, and jaundice (yellowing of your skin the whites of your eyes), and consevative measures don’t help, it’s time to resolve the problem surgically.
You have gallstones
Gallstones form when cholesterol or other substances in your bile harden and form small crystallized clumps. Many people have gallstones and don’t even realize it because they often cause no symptoms.
In fact, about 80% of gallstones are “silent” and never cause a problem. The other 20% are serious because they block the bile duct and lead to a dangerous buildup of bile in your gallbladder — this situation calls for gallbladder removal surgery.
Your gallbladder is infected
When gallstones block the duct and prohibit bile from exiting, the digestive juices get trapped inside your gallbladder. As a result, pressure builds up and infection sets in. This is called cholecystitis, and it can be either acute or chronic.
Gallstones aren’t the only culprits in cholecystitis; other problems can lead to blockage, too, including a tumor in your pancreas or liver or limited blood supply as a consequence of diabetes. You may also have sludgy bile, which is common in pregnant women and those who’ve lost a lot of weight very quickly.
Regardless of the cause, cholecystitis is usually a reason to have your gallbladder removed.
Advanced techniques in gallbladder surgery
If you need to have your gallbladder removed, don’t worry — your body can function normally without it.
Dr. Naik is highly experienced at gallbladder removal surgeries — called cholecystectomies. Using robot-assisted techniques, he makes a tiny incision in your belly button where the scar won’t show and removes your gallbladder with slender instruments that allow for incredible precision.
This technology allows Dr. Naik to preserve healthy tissue and reduce surgical risks. It also allows you to go home on the same day of the surgery.
If you’re experiencing abdominal pain and suspect a problem with your gallbladder, schedule an appointment with Dr. Naik right away to avoid serious complications. Call us at 661-230-8306 today.