Gallbladder disease includes inflammation, infection, stones, or blockage of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a sac located under the liver. It stores and concentrates bile produced in the liver. Bile aids in the digestion of fat, and is released from the gallbladder into the upper small intestine in response to food (especially fats).

As your stomach and intestines digest food, your gallbladder releases bile through the common bile duct. This duct connects your gallbladder and liver to your small intestines. Specific types of gallbladder disease include:

  • Gallstones: One or more hard, pebble-like substances that develop in the gallbladder. There are two types of stones. The most common is the cholesterol stone made mostly of hardened cholesterol. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. The pigment gallstone is small, dark and made of waste products.
  • Cholecystitis: Inflammation of the gallbladder
  • Chronic acalculous: The gallbladder does not empty properly
  • Gangrene: Decay of gallbladder tissue or abscesses (collection of pus)
  • Polyps: Growths of tissue in the gallbladder
  • Sclerosing cholangitis: Swelling of the hepatic bile ducts attached to the liver
  • Tumors: Abnormal growths on the gallbladder and bile ducts

The Treatment

Your doctor may recommend watchful waiting since your symptoms may go away and not return. Medicine may also be recommended. If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder — known as cholecystectomy. The gallbladder is an organ that you can live without.

Cholecystectomy can be performed using open surgery through a large incision or with minimally invasive surgery.

Open Surgery

With open surgery, also called laparotomy, your surgeon makes a large abdominal cut/incision to reach your gallbladder. The incision must be large enough for your surgeon to fit his or her hands and surgical instruments inside your body. The open incision allows surgeons to see and touch your organs while operating.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

The goal of minimally invasive surgery is to reduce pain, length of hospital stay and the recovery period associated with traditional open surgery. However, people who are obese or have a severe infection or inflammation in the gallbladder may not be considered candidates for minimally invasive surgery.

Traditional Laparoscopic Surgery:

With laparoscopic surgery, your surgeon operates through a few small incisions. Long-handled instruments are inserted through the incisions. One of the instruments is a laparoscope — a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera at the end. The camera takes images inside your body and sends them to a video monitor to guide surgeons as they operate.

Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery:

With single incision laparoscopy, your surgeon operates through one small incision in the navel (belly button). As with traditional laparoscopy, a tiny camera sends images to a video monitor in the operating room to guide your surgeon as he/she removes your gallbladder.

da Vinci (Cholecystectomy) Surgery:

Using the da Vinci Surgical System, your surgeon makes just a few small incisions - similar to traditional laparoscopy. Minimally invasive da Vinci Surgery uses the latest in surgical and robotics technologies and is beneficial for performing complex surgery. Your surgeon is 100% in control of the da Vinci System, which translates his or her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body.

da Vinci® Single-Site® Surgery:

Another minimally invasive surgical option is da Vinci Single-Site Surgery. With the da Vinci Single-Site Surgical System, surgeons make one small incision in your belly button to remove your gallbladder — similar to single incision laparoscopy. The da Vinci System features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system coupled with flexible Single-Site instruments. As a result, da Vinci enables your doctor to operate with enhanced vision and precision.

As a result of da Vinci technology, da Vinci Single-Site Cholecystectomy offers the following potential benefits:

  • Low rate of major complications
  • Low conversion rate to open surgery
  • Virtually scarless results
  • High patient satisfaction
  • Minimal pain
  • Low rate of major complications
  • Low blood loss
  • Low rate of wound infection
  • Short hospital stay
  • Virtually scarless surgery

As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed since surgery is specific to each patient and procedure.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Consult-A-Nurse at (843) 692-4444.