Found under the liver, your gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that’s part of your digestive system. Its primary function is to store bile, which is a substance that helps digest fat in the small intestine.
Despite its simple job, the gallbladder is prone to conditions that cause pain and indigestion. Currently, there aren’t any medical treatments that improve gallbladder problems, and gallbladder surgery is the primary treatment.
At Transform Bariatrics in Greenbelt, Rockville, and Silver Spring, Maryland, our general surgeon, Dr. Hitesh P. Amin routinely performs gallbladder surgery, also called cholecystectomy, to treat gallbladder problems.
Here, we want to explain why gallbladder surgery is so common.
There are a few conditions that affect the structure and function of the gallbladder, but most are due to gallstones. Gallstones are pebble-like deposits that form in the gallbladder or the bile ducts that transport bile to and from the liver. They vary in size and number but can affect how the gallbladder works.
If a gallstone blocks a bile duct, you may develop cholecystitis — inflammation of the gallbladder, which may cause abdominal pain, nausea, and a fever. Gallstones may also block the pancreatic duct, the duct that carries digestive enzymes from the pancreas to the small intestine, causing pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and severe abdominal pain.
Though rare, gallbladder cancer is also a problem that affects the small organ.
If you have these symptoms, your health care provider may perform imaging to evaluate the gallbladder, looking for gallstones. Though you can make changes to your diet to ease your discomfort, gallstones don’t usually resolve on their own, which is why we recommend gallbladder surgery.
With advances in surgical tools and techniques, we can remove the gallbladder through tiny incisions using robotic surgery. However, we do perform open cholecystectomy if we think it’s the best approach.
The gallbladder isn’t an essential organ. After we remove it, your liver takes over its function.
We recommend you limit your intake of foods high in fat during the recovery period. It takes some time for your liver to take over gallbladder function, and you may experience abdominal pain and diarrhea if you eat fatty foods too soon.
Recovery time varies, depending on the type of surgery performed, but most people are back to their usual activities within weeks. You may resume your usual diet after a few months.
Gallbladder surgery is common because it’s currently the best treatment for gallbladder problems. If you have gallstones and abdominal pain, we can talk to you about your surgical options. Call or request an appointment online today at the office nearest you.