The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that sits in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen. Its function is to store bile that comes from the liver and which is used to help digest food. Interestingly, the gallbladder is not necessary to maintain good medical health. When gallbladder problems occur, however, the results can be very painful. Oftentimes, the best option for the patient is to have the gallbladder removed by a surgical procedure called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
In the past, the surgery was an open abdominal surgery, which caused a 3 to 7 day hospital stay and left the patient with a 3 to 7 inch abdominal scar. As with many medical practices, the development of the laparoscopic surgery has dramatically improved this procedure. When performed correctly, the surgery now requires only three punctures in the abdomen and a small incision at the naval that allows for removal. The entire procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes, leaves virtually no scarring, and minimizes the hospital stay for the patient. In fact, approximately 90% of the patients are released from the hospital the same day. In several days following surgery the patient is normally able to resume their everyday activities.
Problems with the Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery is definitely beneficial, but what if the surgeon is inexperienced? Laparoscopic surgery requires significant training and practice to perform correctly. It is important to know how many of these types of procedures a surgeon has performed. There can be injury to the bile ducts, blood vessels, or intestines that may require corrective surgery. Additionally, in about 5 to 10% of cases, the gallbladder cannot be safely removed by laparoscopy and a standard open abdominal surgery should be performed.
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