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Douglas Whitelaw: Consultant Gallbladder Surgeon, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire

Consultant Gallbladder Surgeon, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire: Douglas Whitelaw
Consultant Gallbladder Surgeon, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire: Douglas Whitelaw

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 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:

  • Spire Harpenden Hospital
  • The Cobham Clinic at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital
  • Pinehill Hospital, Hitchin

Areas covered include: Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, Hitchin, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.

An expert in Gallbladder surgery

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.

Mr Whitelaw has performed over 1600 laparoscopic (keyhole) gall bladder operations, patients are usually admitted as day patients with occasional overnight stays. A quick post-operative recovery is generally expected in most patients. His main practice is at Spire Harpenden Hospital, but he also sees patients at Pinehill Hospital, Hitchin and The Cobham Clinic at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

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).

GMC Number:


Check this doctor’s GMC registration

Date of registration:

01 Aug 1990



Accreditation and admitting rights at private hospitals


Mr Douglas Whitelaw is an accredited consultant for the UK's leading private healthcare providers and private hospitals, including Spire Healthcare
Spire admitting rights



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Contact details

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Mr Douglas Whitelaw

The Cobham Clinic

Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Lewsey Road, Luton, LU5 0DZ

Tel: 01582 718 278

Mob: 07530 430 741

Fax: 01582 718 278


Treatments offered

  •  Laparoscopic cholecystectomy
  • Open cholecystectomy
  • Laparoscopic biliary surgery
  • Laparoscopic bile duct exploration
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)


Places of work

Private practice

Spire Harpenden Hospital, Ambrose Lane, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 4BP

Tel: 01582 714420

Website: www.spirehealth.com

Consultation times: Tuesday Evenings


The Cobham Clinic

Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Lewsey Road, Luton, LU5 0DZ

Tel: 01582 497433

Fax:01582 497450

Website: www.cobhamclinic.co.uk


Pinehill Hospital, Benslow Lane, Hitchin, Herts, SG4 9QZ

Tel: 01462 427221/427216

Website: www.pinehillhospital.co.uk

Consultation times: Saturday Mornings (alternate)


NHS practice

Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS, Foundation Trust, Lewsey Road, Luton
, LU4 0DZ

Tel: 01582 718278

Website: www.ldh.nhs.uk