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Gallbladder Disease

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located on the right side of the upper abdomen, adjacent to the liver. Its role is to collect and release bile, which is produced in the liver. This digestive enzyme helps with digestion. Traveling from the gallbladder through a small tube calls a duct, bile is released into the small intestines.

Small stones sometimes form in either the gallbladder or the bile duct. It is unknown why some people develop gallstones. Pain from gallstones can be managed with medication and dietary changes, such as reducing fat intake; however, this is only a temporary solution. Typically, most patients opt for removal since they can be so painful.

Common Symptoms of Gallstones

  • Pain in the right quadrant of the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion that is not relieved with antacids
  • Jaundice, if the stones block the common bile duct

Cholecystectomy (Gallbladder Removal)

The best way to remove a gallbladder is through minimally invasive surgery. Under general anesthesia, the patient is fully asleep during surgery. The surgeon will insert a very small camera through a tiny incision in the belly button. This camera will display the patient’s organs on a monitor. Three more small incisions are made to give access for the surgery. Sometimes, the doctor may perform a cholangiogram (a specialized x-ray) to see where all of the gallstones are located. Stones located in the common bile duct are removed with a special scope and then the gallbladder is removed. The incisions are closed, using just a few stiches.

Single Incision Gall Bladder Surgery

In some cases, patients may have a single incision gall bladder removal. Instead of traditional laparoscopy where a four incisions are made, this type of robotic procedure requires only one small cut in the belly button, resulting in virtually no scar from surgery.

This procedure is one of the latest, most advanced robotic surgeries. In single-incision surgery that takes about one hour, the laparoscope and all of the instruments are inserted through an incision less than two centimeters in size within the navel. Using a robotic arm, the surgeon, who is fully in control of the movements, inserts a camera and special curved instruments to cut and remove the gallbladder through the small opening. The patient experiences less pain and blood loss, and a shorter recovery time, and has visible scarring than with open surgery.

Learn What to Expect from Gallbladder Surgery

WakeMed has board-certified general surgeons on staff who perform minimally invasive, corrective procedures. Find the WakeMed general surgeon by calling WakeMed Doctor Choice at 919-350-8900.