Around 80% of people who have gall stones have no symptoms and their gall bladder can remain in place unless problems develop. In the remaining 20%, gall stones can cause inflammation and a condition called cholecystitis. If you have this you tend to develop symptoms of biliary colic – intense abdominal pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting and fever – that are usually only relieved by removal of gall bladder, part of the bile duct and all the stones that can be found.
This article on gall bladder removal is by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
It is also possible for the gall stones to shift out of the gall bladder and block the bile duct, the tube leading from the gall bladder into the intestine. This leads to obstructive jaundice, which causes the skin to yellow and become very itchy. Stones can also escape to block the pancreatic duct, causing acute pancreatitis. Again, removal of gall bladder and stones is necessary to relieve the immediate symptoms and to take away the source of the problem.
Although gall bladder removal is a necessary and sometimes life-saving operation, it is not without its risks and long-term effects. Learning more about these can help you cope if you do have to have to undergo removal of gall bladder surgery.
Removal of gall bladder and stones – what does it involve?
Gall bladder removal can be done in one of two ways. The traditional surgical technique of open surgery involves having a fairly large incision in the abdomen. This is still done if the gall bladder is very inflamed, or if stones have lodged in the bile duct or the pancreatic duct as the surgeon needs to see the surrounding tissues. However, most gall bladder removal is now performed using a keyhole technique as this takes less time and you recover more quickly afterwards. In both cases, removal of gall bladder is done under general anaesthetic and involves at least a couple of nights in hospital.
The long-term effects of gall bladder removal
If you have removal of gall bladder and stones by laparoscopic surgery, your abdomen will be very sore for a few days but as healing takes place, you will start to feel better. The severe symptoms that you may have had before the operation will have gone away and you may feel healthier than you did for several weeks before. However, it is important to bear in mind that the gall bladder is an important organ. It is a storage sac for the bile produced by the liver, a fluid that is released into the intestine after meals to help with the digestion of fatty foods. Removal of gall bladder can have various long-term effects on digestion and the digestive system and there are important signs to look out for that may mean you need follow up treatment.