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Gallbladder Surgery (Cholecystectomy)

A gallbladder attack can be both frightening and painful experiences, which often occur at night, usually send people to the emergency room with pain and nausea feeling like serious indigestion. Sometimes, the pain radiates through the shoulder blade area. The pain can be constant or can come and go, and it can be sharp or dull. If the tests show gallstones or other gallbladder problems, most patients will opt for surgery to rid themselves of this pain. Your experienced and knowledgeable surgeons at WakeMed Physician Practices - General Surgery are very proficient at gallbladder surgery and will guide you through the decision-making process to get you feeling like yourself right away.

What is gallbladder surgery?

Your gallbladder can be removed through open (traditional) surgery, or more commonly, using a laparascope, which has a faster recovery time. The formal name is a cholecystectomy, and it is considered a routine surgical procedure.

The gallbladder is a small organ found just above the liver, in the right side of the abdomen. Its role is to help digest fat. Sometimes, gallstones form which can block passage of bile to the liver and cause intense pain. An ultrasound is used to find out if you have gallstones. If you do, surgery is the only way to remove them because they will not go away by themselves or with medication. Another reason for taking out the gallbladder is that it's simply not functioning correctly, which also can cause pain and infection.

During traditional surgery, the surgeon will make a long incision (5-8 inches) in your abdomen, starting just below your ribs on the right side, to just below your waist. The gallbladder is removed through this cut.

What is laparascopic gallbladder removal?

The newer and more frequently used method is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, also known as minimally invasive surgery. Using this method, your surgeon will make several small incisions, perhaps three or four, and insert a laparoscope and tiny surgical tools to remove the gallbladder. A laparascope is a small, thin tube with a camera on the tip that sends magnified images to a computer monitor that looks like a television screen; your surgeon uses this screen and the tools to gently lift your gallbladder out through one of the small incisions. A special x-ray, with dye, shows if any stones are still in the bile duct. If so, the surgeon will take them out along with the gallbladder.

The benefit of this surgery is that you will have less pain and bleeding, and far less scarring than with open surgery. This surgery is most frequently performed as outpatient surgery, which means you can go home that same day for a faster recovery. You will be given pain medication and monitored for infection, but will be encouraged to return to a normal diet and regular activities as soon as possible.

Consulting with your experienced surgeons at WakeMed Physician Practices - General Surgery will help you make the best decision about gallbladder surgery, which will get you back to your normal way of life and daily routine in no time.