An experienced laparoscopic surgeon specialising in the treatment of gallstones and biliary tract disease, based in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
Mr Douglas Whitelaw is Consultant Bariatric and Pancreatobiliary Surgeon and Clinical Director of Surgery at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He provides private treatment for gallstones and conditions affecting the biliary tract at three independent hospitals in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire:
- The Cobham Clinic at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital
- Pinehill Hospital, Hitchin
- Spire Harpenden Hospital
Areas covered include: Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, Hitchin, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.
An expert gallbladder surgeon in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire
Following his medical training at Edinburgh University Medical School, Mr Whitelaw underwent higher surgical training at various London hospitals including University College Hospital, The Royal Marsden, Hammersmith Hospital and the Chelsea and Westminster. A highly skilled laparoscopic surgeon, he has been Consultant Bariatric and Pancreatobiliary Surgeon at Luton and Dunstable Hospital since 2004, and Clinical Director of Surgery since 2009.
What is laparoscopic gallbladder surgery?
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped pouch attached to the liver, whose function it is to store the digestive fluid produced by the liver that helps in the digestion of fat (bile). The gallbladder is attached to the liver by a small duct and releases bile into the common bile duct that runs to the stomach when a fatty meal is consumed. Further small ducts run from the liver directly into the common bile duct, meaning that the body can function perfectly well without a gallbladder.
When the constituent substances in bile get out of balance, the bile can form into small, hard stones known as gallstones. These can cause inflammation of the gallbladder or become stuck in a bile duct causing symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea and fever. If these symptoms are persistent or if jaundice is present, it is usually best to remove the gallbladder.
Mr Whitelaw carries out the majority of gallbladder removal procedures (cholecystectomy) using minimally invasive keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. A long thin fibre optic tube (laparoscope) is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen, sending back images of the internal organs to a video screen. Specially adapted instruments are then introduced through further small incisions to cut away and remove the gallbladder. Laparoscopic surgery is associated with less postoperative pain and a quicker recovery time compared to open surgery, however in a few cases it may be necessary to convert to an open procedure to complete the operation successfully.
Laparoscopic bile duct exploration
Usually performed during a cholecystectomy, laparoscopic bile duct exploration is a procedure to remove any gallstones from the common bile duct. An X-ray of the bile duct is taken during the operation to confirm the presence of stones, which are then remove through a small incision in the duct using a flexible camera and a tiny wire basket.
Obstructive gallstones may also be removed following the operation with a a special endoscope in a technique known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
Mr Douglas Whitelaw is an accredited consultant for the UK's leading private healthcare providers and private hospitals, including Spire Healthcare
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