ABOUT THE GALLBLADDER
The gallbladder is a small organ that sits just below the liver in the upper abdomen. Its main objective is to act as a storage pouch for the substance produced by the liver known as bile, which aids in the digestion process by breaking down food and nutrients. While all individuals are born with gallbladders, the organ itself is not always needed or necessary for your overall health or digestive function. Because of this, when complications with the gallbladder arise, such as gallstones, disease, or infection, removal tends to be a common route. Our team of board-certified surgeons at Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery have years of experience and mastery in diagnosing gallbladder conditions and performing innovative, minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures for gallbladder removal surgery. If you've been experiencing sharp pains in the upper abdomen or other abnormal symptoms, schedule an appointment at one of our North Houston or West Houston, TX offices and regain your quality of life.
Complications with the gallbladder can be a common occurrence. Some of the more frequently occurring conditions patients may experience are:
- Gallstones develop inside of the gallbladder as excess cholesterol bilirubin or bile salts form. Gallstones are typically round, hard, tiny, and incredibly painful as they attempt to pass through the digestive tract. For some patients, removal of the gallbladder is the best and most effective option to address gallstones.
- Cholecystitis is an infection that occurs within the gallbladder and can occasionally develop in patients who have gallstones. This condition is typically accompanied by abdominal pain and fever. If the infection persists, the removal of the organ will likely be considered.
- Gallstone pancreatitis is a disorder that affects the pancreas, causing significant discomfort and generally occurring when a lodged gallstone prevents the pancreas from draining. This often results in inflammation of the pancreas and may create serious issues if not treated as soon as possible.
- Gallbladder cancer, while rare, can develop in some individuals. If you are diagnosed with this disease, gallbladder removal surgery is nearly always suggested. Cancer of the gallbladder is usually diagnosed when the condition has progressed to its later stages. The symptoms of gallbladder cancer can closely resemble those of gallstones.
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SIGNS and SYMPTOMS
Many gallbladder conditions cause similar symptoms to manifest. If you're experiencing an issue with your gallbladder, you may notice some of the following:
- Sharp pains in the mid- to upper-right portion of the abdomen
- Abnormal waste, such as stool that is lighter in color or darker-colored urine
- Nausea and vomiting
- Acid reflux
- Fever or chills, which may signal an infection
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
WHAT TO EXPECT
When you come to Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery exhibiting symptoms of a gallbladder issue or condition, our surgeons will perform a series of imaging tests to assess your internal structures and make a proper diagnosis. Some of these imaging tests may include abdominal x-rays, an abdominal ultrasound, an MRI or MRCP, an endoscopic ultrasound, an ERCP, or a HIDA scan. Once the results from your assessments come back, our board-certified surgeons will be able to diagnose your condition and work with you to craft a plan for treatment. In many cases, gallbladder removal is the most effective and beneficial solution.
When gallbladder removal surgery is your best option, our team of skilled colorectal specialists utilizes minimally invasive techniques to safely remove the affected organ. At Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery, our surgeons frequently implement laparoscopic cholecystectomy to remove infected, inflamed, or otherwise damaged gallbladders. For this procedure, patients are given general anesthesia. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, four tiny incisions are made in the abdominal wall near the location of the gallbladder. Minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery uses a small video camera to give our surgeons a clear view of your internal structures. Then, using thin, advanced instruments, we are able to precisely navigate through your abdomen and complete a successful removal. After the gallbladder has been taken out, the incisions are closed with sutures.
Since the incisions made for this surgery are tiny, scarring is often minimal. The procedure can be completed within an hour, after which you may be permitted to go home to begin your recovery. Before you are released from our care, a member of our team will go over detailed post-op instructions with you so that your surgical sites heal healthy and smooth. You may experience swelling, bruising, and pain in the area following your surgery, but these after-effects are normal and should resolve on their own. We may prescribe pain medication to make your recovery more comfortable. Many patients find that they are fully healed from gallbladder removal surgery after 1 – 2 weeks.
CONDITIONS AND REMOVAL
Gallbladder removal is much more common than many patients initially believe. In fact, when complications of the gallbladder arise (such as gallstones, infections, or cancer), removal is often the most effective treatment. With the discovery and development of minimally invasive techniques, like laparoscopic surgery, gallbladder conditions have become increasingly safe and easy to address. When you visit Houston Colon and Rectal Surgery, you can rest assured that you're receiving the highest quality of care from specialists who make it a point to help you achieve your best quality of life.