Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a minimally invasive procedure to remove the diseased gallbladder. The gallbladder is present in the upper right abdomen. It stores some part of the bile (produced by the liver) that helps in the digestion of fats. When you eat, the gallbladder releases the stored bile into the intestine for breaking down fats. And, if there is no gallbladder, bile is directly released into the intestine by the liver.
Who are eligible for cholecystectomy or gall bladder removal?
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed on people who have cholelithiasis (formation of gallstones), cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), biliary dyskinesia (motility disorder that affects biliary part of the digestive system), and masses/polyps. Gallstones is the most common condition associated with the gallbladder.
What are gallstones?
Gallstones are mostly hardened bile deposits that form in the gallbladder. They form when there is excess cholesterol in the bile, leading to obstruction to the bile flow. This condition may fail the gallbladder in emptying its contents properly causing inflammation of the gallbladder. Recurrent formation of these gallstones can also cause severe inflammation of the gallbladder.
Symptoms of gall stones:
- Sudden, intense, and intermittent/frequent pain in the right side of the abdomen
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Dark urine
Some patients with gallstones may not experience any symptoms. They may experience pain only when the gallstone obstructs the flow of bile from the gallbladder. In such cases, gallstones are detected when an abdominal scan or surgery is performed.
- Too much cholesterol in bile
- Too much bilirubin in bile
- Failure of the gallbladder to empty properly
Gallstones, if left untreated, may lead to complications such as jaundice (too much bilirubin in the body), cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), cholangitis (bile duct infection), sepsis, and gallbladder cancer.
A physical examination is performed initially to check for the signs of jaundice and other symptoms. The following tests may be performed to confirm the diagnosis:
Imaging tests: An ultrasound test is an imaging test that uses sound waves to create images of the abdomen. It is a more reliable and preferred method to diagnose gallstones. An abdominal CT or MRI scan can also be performed to produce images of the liver and abdominal region.
Blood test: This test is performed to measure the amount of bilirubin present in the blood.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed under general anesthesia by making 3 or 4 small incisions on the abdomen to insert surgical tools and laparoscope. A laparoscope is a device that contains a tiny camera and a light source to visualize the abdomen. You may usually go home the same day if you do not have any complications after the procedure.
Rarely, you may experience diarrhea after the surgery, which improves after few days. You may return to your normal routine within 2 to 3 days. However, you should avoid strenuous activities and follow home-care instructions as suggested by your doctor for a quick recovery.
NOTE: There is no medical treatment or medicine available to dissolve gallstones.
1. Can you live without a gallbladder?
Yes, you can live a normal life without a gallbladder and any modification in your diet. It is a misconception that you cannot eat food with fat after gallbladder removal.
2. How can I prevent gallstones?
Modifying dietary habits plays a crucial role in preventing the formation of gallstones, which includes:
- Eating healthy fats such as fish oil or olive oil and a high-fiber diet
- Limiting consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars
- Avoiding crash diets (less than 800 calories intake per day)