Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located on the upper right side of your abdomen, just below your liver. Its main job is to collect and store the bile that your liver produces. If your gallbladder develops stones that block the flow of bile, it can cause bothersome or even severe symptoms. The safest and most effective way to treat persistent gallbladder problems is through surgery. Board-certified surgeon Dr. Dennis Streeter in Merrillville, Indiana, offers gallbladder removal surgery to patients in northwestern Indiana. Call or book your appointment online today.
Most gallbladder problems are caused by gallstones, or small, hard stones that consist of cholesterol and bile salts. Although medical researchers don’t know exactly why some people form gallstones and others don’t, they have identified the risk factors that increase your chances of developing them. They are:
Even if you have some or all of these risk factors, there’s currently no known way to prevent gallstones.
Gallstones can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on where they’re located. If they’re in the gallbladder itself, they may block the outward flow of bile, causing the organ to swell. As a result, you may experience:
When gallstones occur in the bile duct, you may notice that your skin takes on a yellowish hue, or appears jaundice.
Gallstones are usually diagnosed through ultrasound imaging. If your gallbladder problem is particularly severe or complicated, you may require other diagnostic imaging tests, such as a CT scan.
While it’s possible for some patients to manage gallstones by reducing their fat intake and making other recommended dietary changes, any improvement is often small and short-lived. In addition, treatments designed to break up or dissolve gallstones are largely unsuccessful.
In the vast majority of cases, symptoms will continue until the gallbladder is surgically removed.
A cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder. Dr. Streeter has performed this common surgery countless times. It carries only a small risk of complications, and most patients can go home the same day as their surgery.
A cholecystectomy may be performed as an open surgery or laparoscopically, depending on what’s best for the patient. Whenever possible, however, Dr. Streeter uses the laparoscopic method because it carries fewer potential risks.
Advantages of laparoscopic gallbladder removal include:
A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is done by inserting a tiny video camera and special surgical tools through four tiny incisions to in your abdomen. The camera allows Dr. Streeter to see inside your abdomen and successfully remove the gallbladder.
If you don’t experience any problems during or after surgery, you’ll be able to head home once you’re able to drink liquids easily and your pain can be managed. Most people are able to go home on the same day or the day after having their gallbladder removed.
If you have a fever, a lot of pain, or any uncontrolled bleeding, you probably need to stay in the hospital longer.
To make sure you’re healing properly, schedule a follow-up visit at Dr. Streeter’s office within a week of your surgery.