WHAT IS THE GALLBLADDER?
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that aids in the digestion of fat. Located beneath the right side of the liver, it collects and concentrates digestive liquid (bile) from your liver. After you eat, your liver releases bile from the gallbladder into the small intestine. Typically, gallbladder removal does not result in any impairment of the digestive process.
COMMON CAUSES OF GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS
Gallstones are common causes for gallbladder problems. These small, hard masses consist primarily of cholesterol and bile salts that form in the gallbladder or bile duct. Gallstones may block the flow of bile from the gallbladder.
Common symptoms include pain, swelling, sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, indigestion, and fever. When gallstones block the bile duct, you may develop jaundice (yellowing skin). It is unclear why gallstones occur, and there are no known preventative measures.
STEPS FOR DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Gallbladder problems are typically diagnosed through ultrasounds. Complex cases may require x-ray tests to evaluate the extent of the disease.
Gallstones require treatment and do not go away on their own. Some cases are manageable through medications and dietary adjustments such as a reduction in fat intake. More commonly, however, the gallbladder will need to be removed.
SILS™ Gallbladder Surgery
The SILS™ procedure has revolutionized gallbladder surgery. With the SILS™ procedure you may no longer have to endure multiple incisions, visible scars and long recovery times. Dr. Ahmad and his staff are experts in this procedure. The SILS™ procedure allows the gallbladder surgery to be performed through a single incision in the belly button – resulting in the potential for no visible scar. If you’ve just been diagnosed with benign gall bladder condition, contact us to see if you are a candidate for the SILS ™ procedure including robotic assisted.
BENEFITS OF LAPAROSCOPIC GALLBLADDER SURGERY
Laparoscopic surgery requires only four small incisions in the abdomen. Patients typically have minimal pain following surgery and experience faster recovery time. Most patients return home within one day of surgery and are able to quickly resume their daily activities.
IS LAPAROSCOPIC GALLBLADDER SURGERY RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you are local to Houston, Dr. Ahmad can help you evaluate whether laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is right for you. While there are many advantages to laparoscopic surgery, the procedure is not right for everyone. If you have had previous upper abdominal surgery or certain pre-existing medical conditions, you will need to explore other options. You will need a thorough examination from your personal physician as well as a consultation with Dr. Ahmad.
PREPARATION REQUIRED FOR LAPAROSCOPIC GALLBLADDER SURGERY
- You may need to undergo blood work, a medical evaluation, a chest X-ray, and an EKG depending on your age and health history.
- After reviewing the potential risks and benefits of surgery with Dr. Ahmad, you will need to sign a medical consent.
- Dr. Ahmad may require you to completely empty your colon and cleanse your intestines prior to surgery.
- You may need to follow a strict liquid diet for one to several days before your surgery.
- It is recommended that you shower the night before or the morning of your surgery.
- You cannot eat or drink after midnight the night before your operation. Some medications are permissible with your surgeon’s approval.
- You will need to temporarily stop drugs such as aspirin, blood thinners, and anti-inflammatory medications (including arthritis drugs) for several days to a week before your surgery.
- Diet medication and St. John’s Wort should be avoided for two weeks prior to surgery.
THE LAPAROSCOPIC GALLBLADDER SURGERY PROCEDURE
- Patients are under general anesthesia and asleep through the procedure.
- Dr. Ahmad will use a narrow, tube-like instrument to enter the abdomen in the area near the belly button.
- A small telescope with a tiny camera is inserted through the tube-like instrument into your abdomen. Dr. Ahmad will have a magnified view of your internal organs on a visual monitor.
- Dr. Ahmad will delicately separate the gallbladder from its attachments and then remove it through one of the surgical openings.
Dr. Ahmad may perform a cholangiogram (a specific type of x-ray) to identify whether gallstones are in the bile channels or to pinpoint other abnormalities. If Dr. Ahmad finds one or more stones in the common bile duct, he may choose to remove them later through a second minimally invasive procedure. He may also convert the surgery into an open operation to remove all stones.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING RECOVERY
- Postoperative pain, nausea, and vomiting are common among gallbladder surgery patients.
- Patients typically begin to tolerate liquids or a diet very quickly after the procedure.
- Patients will typically return home within one day of surgery.
- Depending on how the patient feels, he or she can resume activities such as walking and mild exercise.
- Patients can remove surgical dressings and take a shower the day after the operations.
- Most patients are able to resume normal activities within several weeks.