Gallbladder Removal Questions

Why would a gallbladder need to be removed?

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.

How common is gallbladder surgery?

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.

Who gets gallstones?

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.

How is the need for gallbladder surgery determined?

An evaluation is necessary which usually includes blood work, an abdominal ultrasound and an assessment by a Dr. Zadeh. Dr. Zadeh will review relevant health history and medications as well as discuss pain control options.

What types of surgical options are out there for gallbladder removal?

During your surgical consultation Dr. Zadeh will help you decide if you need to have your gallbladder removed and which type of surgery is most appropriate for you. It is good to know that there are different types of gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy):

  • Minimally Invasive Cholecystectomy – requires one or a few small incisions through whichalaparoscope (a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera at the end) is inserted to see inside of your body during the operation. The goal of minimally invasive surgery istoreduce your pain, hospital stay and recovery time. However, people who are obese or have a severe infection or inflammation in the gallbladder may not be candidates for minimally invasive surgery. There are a few types of minimally invasive surgery for gallbladder removal:
    • Robotic Cholecystectomy: Dr. Zadeh is 100% in control of the robotic-assisted da Vinci® Surgical System, which translates his hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside your body. The da Vinci System also features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system that lets Dr. Zadeh operate with enhanced vision and precision. Dr. Zadeh makes a few small incisions in the belly in a da Vinci Cholecystectomy, or one small incision in the bellybutton in a da Vinci Single-Site Cholecystectomy.
    • Traditional Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: Dr. Zadeh uses long-handled instruments and a handheld laparoscope inserted through a few small incisions in the belly in a traditional laparoscopic surgery.
  • Open Cholecystectomy – With open surgery, Dr. Zadeh makes a long abdominal cut/incision to reach your gallbladder. The incision must be large enough for Dr. Zadeh to fit his or her hands and surgical instruments inside your body. The open incision allows Dr. Zadeh to see and touch your organs as he operates. These days an open cholecystectomy is rarely performed. In fact, less than 1% of all gallbladder surgeries that Dr. Zadeh performs are done using the open approach.

What is the recovery after gallbladder removal like?

If there are no complications following gallbladder surgery, many patients can be discharged and go home the same day as their surgery.

Do I need a gallbladder?

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.

What is the Single Site Robotic Surgery procedure?

Single Site Robotic Surgery uses the Da Vinci Robot along with 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 with the Single Site Robotic Surgery procedure Dr. Zadeh can avoid the multiple entry points – usually involving up to four ½-inch or smaller incisions – required by traditional laparoscopic techniques.

What conditions can be treated with the Single Site Robotic Surgery procedure?

Dr. Zadeh performs Robotic Surgery for gallbladder removal and hernia surgery. Robotic Surgery is also utilized in bariatric, urologic and gynecologic procedures.

Who is a candidate for Robotic Gallbladder Surgery?

Generally, candidates for traditional laparoscopic surgery are also candidates for Robotic Gallbladder Removal. Criteria may include: no prior surgery and an elective or non-emergent case.

What benefits does the Single Site Robotic Surgery procedure offer over standard laparoscopic procedures?

Unlike general laparoscopic procedures that require four ½-inch or smaller incisions and can leave visible scars at all sites of entry, the Single Site Robotic Surgery 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 and can result in a faster recovery and less need for pain medication.

Learn more about Robotic Surgery