The most common reason for gallbladder removal is because of gallstones, but the gallbladder may also be removed if it is inflamed or infected. Gallbladder removal will relieve pain, treat infection and – in most cases – stop gallstones from coming back. The risks of not having surgery are the possibilities of worsening symptoms, infection and gangrene of the gallbladder.
Approximately 500,000 gallbladder surgeries or cholecystectomies are performed each year in the United States. The most common reason for gallbladder surgery is gallbladder pain (biliary colic) due to blockage of the cystic or bile duct by gallstones. Approximately 20 million adults in the U.S. have gallstones and an estimated one million people are newly diagnosed with gallstones each year.
Gallstones are twice as likely to occur in women, especially those who are pregnant or of childbearing age. Overweight people, older adults, Native Americans and Mexican Americans are also at greater risk. The development of gallstones may run in families, but gallstones can be present in anyone who has a gallbladder.
An evaluation is necessary which usually includes blood work, an abdominal ultrasound and assessments by a surgeon. Your surgeon will review relevant health history and medications as well as discuss pain control options.
If there are no complications following gallbladder surgery, many patients can be discharged and go home the same day as their surgery.
No, you do not need your gallbladder to survive. The function of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate the bile which is produced by your liver. Without a gallbladder your liver will still make bile, but instead of being stored in the gallbladder the bile will flow straight into your intestine. You will be able to live a normal life and eat a regular diet after gallbladder removal. Some people may experience occasional diarrhea after gallbladder surgery as the body gets used to life without a gallbladder. This is temporary and will improve over time.
The SPLS procedure is a laparoscopic surgical procedure using a single incision (through the belly button) to accomplish any number of treatments including gallbladder removal, gynecologic procedures (like hysterectomies) and others. By utilizing just one incision, the SPLS procedure avoids the multiple entry points – usually involving up to four ½-inch or smaller incisions – required by traditional laparoscopic techniques.
The SPLS procedure is often performed for the purpose of gallbladder removal. The SPLS procedure is also utilized in bariatric, urologic and gynecologic procedures.
Generally, candidates for traditional laparoscopic surgery are also candidates for the SPLS procedure. Criteria may include: no prior surgery and an elective or non-emergent case.
Unlike general laparoscopic procedures that require four ½-inch or smaller incisions and can leave visible scars at all sites of entry, the SPLS procedure is accomplished through a single 2 cm incision through the belly button – resulting in the potential for no visible scar. Moreover, a single incision minimizes the wound pain that may accompany additional sites of entry.
Learn more about Single Port Laparoscopic Surgery (SPLS)