The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ positioned under the liver in the upper right portion of the abdomen. Its main purpose is to collect bile, a digestive agent that is produced by the liver. Stones may form in the gallbladder and block the outlet of the gallbladder, causing pain. Sometimes the stones may move into the bile duct, causing jaundice or an inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Patients who have severe symptoms from gallstones (usually diagnosed on an ultrasound) usually have their gallbladder removed. Symptoms may include sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, and indigestion. Gallbladder pain may start after a meal and it may be a severe, steady pain. If left untreated, symptoms may worsen.
Sometimes gallbladder problems can be managed with medication or adjustments in diet. However, when severe obstruction of the gallbladder occurs, removal is the only option. If surgery is the form of treatment your doctor recommends, physicians at the Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York who specialize in this procedure can determine if laparoscopic surgery is appropriate for you.
How is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery Performed?
Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope, which is inserted through a small incision at the umbilicus (belly button). The laparoscope is connected to a tiny video camera--smaller than a dime--which projects a view of the operative site onto video monitors located in the operating room. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, a gas, to allow your surgeon a better view of the operative area. Three additional small incisions are made near the laparoscope through which the surgeon inserts very small specialized surgical instruments. The surgeon uses these instruments to remove the gallbladder. The bile duct is usually examined during surgery to be sure that no stone has migrated and to increase the safety of the surgery. Following the procedure, the small incisions are closed with sutures and covered with Band-Aids. After a few months, they are barely visible.
What Are the Benefits of Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery?
- Four tiny scars instead of one large abdominal scar.
- Shorter hospital stay--you may leave the same day or the day after surgery.
- Reduced pain following surgery.
- Shorter recovery time - days, instead of weeks - and quicker return to daily activities, including work.
What Can I Expect after Surgery?
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions after surgery. Although many people feel better in just a few days, you may need to take it easy for two to four weeks.
How Safe Is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery?
If performed by experts in this field, minimally invasive gallbladder removal is as safe as traditional "open" surgery in carefully selected cases.