The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped sac which stores digestive fluid produced by the liver. The digestive juice, also called bile, helps in the breakdown of fatty substances present in food. Gallstones form when concentrations of the various bile components such as bile salts, cholesterol, water, lecithin, and bilirubin are imbalanced in the gallbladder. Crystallization of excess cholesterol in bile as well as incomplete emptying of the gallbladder may also be responsible for forming gallstones.
Gallstones that block the bile duct, get transferred to other parts of the body or that inflame the gallbladder are emergency situations which require surgery for treatment.
Surgical procedures for removing the gallbladder depend on the severity of complications caused by the gallstones. Procedures for gallbladder and gallstone removal include:
Cholecystectomy can be performed as an open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery. Your surgeon will recommend open surgery if complications are present. Open surgery involves making a long incision on the abdomen to remove the gall bladder.
Laparoscopic surgery involves making 3 to 4 tiny incisions in the abdomen, insertion of a laparoscope (a tiny flexible tube with a lighted device and video camera at its end) and surgical instruments, followed by removal of the gallbladder. The recovery time with open surgery is longer than that of the laparoscopic surgery.
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) with Endoscopic Sphincterotomy:
This procedure is indicated for removing gallstones from the gallbladder or to treat infection of the bile duct with the use of antibiotics. An endoscope (a long, ﬂexible, lighted tube connected to a screen) is passed through the mouth until it reaches the bile duct and a contrast dye is injected through a catheter which shows the flow of bile through the bile duct. Instruments may be passed through the endoscope for removing the gallstones. Endoscopic sphincterotomy (incision in the bile duct opening) is performed along with ERCP to remove gallstones using tiny balloons or baskets.
The gallbladder is not an essential organ and therefore you can live a normal life even after the gallbladder is removed. Digestion of fats will be continued by the liver even after the gallbladder removal. Dietary changes are recommended if you experience side-effects such as indigestion, bloating, or diarrhea after the surgery. Increase your fiber intake gradually and avoid caffeinated or spicy food. Continue eating a healthy well-balanced diet to aid recovery and improve your health.