Gall Bladder Surgery
What Are Gall Stones?
Gall stones are a common condition, with 8% of the population aged over 40 years having gall stones. This rises to over 20% in those aged over 60.
How Does The Gall Bladder Normally Work?
Normally a substance called bile is produced by the liver and travels down the bile ducts to be stored in the gall bladder. Bile is an important secretion that the body uses to digest and absorb normal fats in the diet.
Eating foods containing fat causes the gall bladder to contract, and the bile is squeezed out of the gall bladder, down the bile ducts and into the small bowel where it aid digestion of the fat.
What Causes Gall Stones?
Gall stones are the result of the bile condensing into solid lumps. These can be fine grit (often called “sludge”), stones large enough to be a single piece that completely fills the inside of the gall bladder, or anything in between.
Many factors can contribute to the formation of gall stones, including pregnancy, obesity and rapid weight loss. In many cases however gall stones simply occur without a clearly identifiable cause.
What Problems Can Gall Stones Cause?
Formation of stones in the gall bladder can cause several problems.
When the gall bladder contracts to squeeze out the bile, the gall stones move within the bile and can block the outlet of gall bladder causing pain, known as Biliary Colic.
The presence of gall stones can irritate the gall bladder lining, resulting in inflammation and infection of the gall bladder wall, known as cholecystitis.
If the stones are pushed out of the gall bladder they can block the bile ducts from the liver, causing jaundice and even infection of the bile ducts, a condition known as Cholangitis.
Finally, since the bile duct and the pancreas use the same opening to empty into the intestines, gall stones can block the duct from the pancreas into the small bowel and cause inflammation, known as Pancreatitis. In some people this can be serious enough to require treatment in intensive care.
Gall Bladder Surgery
Many people have gall stones that never cause them any symptoms, and that never require any treatment.
If gall stones start to produce symptoms such as biliary colic or cholecystitis, then removal of the gall bladder is recommended, to prevent more serious problems from occurring.
In some patients this is done as an urgent procedure to treat an acute episode of cholecystitis. In others it is done as a planned “elective” operation after symptoms have settled, or if the symptoms have so far only been mild enough to not need treatment in hospital.
The operation to remove a gall bladder is called a Cholecystectomy. These days it is usually performed via keyhole surgery, in a procedure known as a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy experience
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy involves a general anaesthetic. Most patients will stay in hospital overnight after the procedure.
What are the outcomes?
What are the risks?
As with any surgery, laparoscopic cholecystectomy has risks which we cannot always prevent or avoid.
Serious complications are rare, but include events like heart attacks or strokes during the surgery, …
More minor complications can include things like:
- Shallow skin infection at the skin incisions.
- Hernias developing at the port site in the future.