Gallbladder Surgery Q&A

Q: What is the gallbladder and where is it located


The gallbladder is one of those organs that have a function that is redundant and that we can live without. Thank goodness, because is among the most commonly removed organs of the body. 

The gallbladder sits under the liver in the R upper abdomen area.

Q: What does the gallbladder do

A: Through a system of ducts it collects the bile generated by the liver and concentrates it. It empties throughout the day and sends a bolus to the duodenum of bile to help in the digestion of foods, mainly fats. 

Q: What happens after gallbladder removal

A: If the gallbladder is removed, there are no long term repercussions a d the body functions well since there is no need to have the reservoir of bile after all. The duodenum will then reabsorb the excess water and electrolytes. the bile continues to low through a system of ducts from the liver into the duodenum.

Q: Why is the gallbladder removed

A: The most common reason to remove the gallbladder is due to gallstones. These stones can block the gallbladder duct or the main bile ducts and cause infection, liver issues, and even pancreatitis. Most of the time the patient comes with abdominal pain that presents after eating and comes in waves. These are usually warning signs before a stone comes out of the gallbladder and causes more serious issues. If the stones come out of the gallbladder this can cause infection which would make the operation more difficult

and other times if they come out they can block the bile duct and require removal through another procedure before called ERCP, before the gallbladder is removed. The goal is to remove the gallbladder before these complications occur. So symptoms suggesting gallbladder disease will prompt removal of this organ. 

Dissolution of gallstones has been attempted as well as breaking them down, but results were not good and if the stones passed into the bile ducts this caused more issues. Also, the gallbladder would produce more stones shortly after. 

Q: What are other. reasons to remove the gallbladder

A: At times a patient will have symptoms of gallbladder disease that have no association with gallstones. This condition is called biliary dyskinesia and it is a diagnosis made by exclusion, which means it is a diagnosis given when we have done a complete workup and the only abnormality detected is a dysfunctional gallbladder or a poorly contracting gallbladder. This is determined via a nuclear medicine test called a HIDA scan with ejection fraction.

Q: How is gallbladder disease diagnosed

A: Diagnosis-Gallbladder disease is usually diagnosed via ultrasound or HIDA scan. 

Q: How is the gallbladder removed

A: Surgical technique - For many years the open tech nice was the only available options and that meant having a cut in the upper abdomen that measures about 6-8 inches and the recovery was prolonged.  Now a days we do this using the laparoscopic technique. This is different due to the fact that we make 4 small incisions. One 10 mm cut below the umbilicus. One 5mm cut in the mid-upper abdomen and two 5mm. cuts in the right upper abdomen. Due to the smaller incisions, the recovery is much faster. This technique has been around now for about 3 decades and has been perfected.

Q: What are some of the risks of surgery

A: Risks of surgery - As with any surgical procedure there are inherent risks. They are minimal but need to be disclosed. Bleeding, infection, bile leak, bile duct injury, retained stone are the most common. All of these risks will be discussed with the patient in person and all questions answered in person. In the event that any of these mentioned risks occurred, we have a solution to resolve it and resume a normal life. 

Dr Rafael. Lugo is the woodlands surgeon of choice for personalized care

Lugo Surgical Group