The gall bladder is a small organ located under the liver that is used to store bile. Our liver produces bile that is used to digest the fats in our diets, and our gallbladder helps to store the bile until it is needed. Often times our bile consists of too much cholesterol and this causes gallstones to form. When our gallbladder gets gallstones it can become very painful. The gallstones can grow up to a few centimeters in size and usually the pain is most common right after a meal has been eaten. It is possible to have gallstones without any symptoms at all, however, those that do have symptoms can often be in severe pain for up to several hours at a time.
If your doctor has recommended gall bladder removal for you then it is most likely you have been suffering from gall stones, gall bladder cancer, or gall bladder disease and pain for some time. It seems that different people have different reactions. While some can manage the pain well, for other this pain can be so bad that it can cause nausea and vomiting. For someone that has suffered through tremendous amounts of pain from gallstones or gall bladder disease, the best option may be removing the gall bladder entirely. Since evidence has shown that leaving a gall bladder intact may result in more gallstones to develop, it seems best to just remove it.
Once the decision has been made to remove your gall bladder you will be instructed on the best surgical option for removing your gall bladder. Typically, there are two surgical procedures that can be performed. The first procedure is called the Open Cholecystectomy. With this method there is a large incision made under the right rib cage, while you are under general anesthesia. This procedure will generally take no more than 1 -2 hours to perform, but you may have to stay in the hospital for several days. The recovery time frame with an Open Cholecystectomy can be up to two weeks.
The second method of removing the gall bladder is known as the Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. This is the procedure used most often to remove gall bladders. Again, under general anesthesia, this method uses smaller incisions and is considered a little less invasive. During this surgery, the doctor will make 4 small incisions and use a laparoscope (a small lighted tube) to see inside the abdomen. With both procedures, the surgeon will cut the ducts and vessels going to the organ and then remove the gall bladder. The Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy has a shorter recovery time with a shorter hospital stay and the incisions typically heal a bit better and look better than the scar from an Open Cholecystectomy.
Although the gall bladder does serve an important purpose, it is an organ that can be lived without. Once your gall bladder is removed the bile from the liver can bypass the gall bladder and dump straight into the small intestine. Occasionally someone can suffer from what is known as Post-Cholecystectomy Syndrome after surgery. These symptoms can simulate the initial feelings you were experiencing before the gall bladder removal. Only about 15% of people post surgery will develop this problem. It can occur right after surgery or years later and can be caused by several different things. If this occurs, a patient may need more extensive testing to determine exactly what the cause is. More often the patient with the removed gall bladder will not have any side effects. The best thing to do after surgery is to keep your fat intake low to avoid stomach upset and you will more than likely be free and clear of all the pain you had prior to surgery.
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