What is a gallbladder?
The gallbladder helps you digest fatty and greasy foods. When it works well, you don’t feel it or think about it.
It’s like the body’s liquid soap dispenser. The liver makes the soap, which pumps through the tubes that connect to the gallbladder. Then, the gallbladder concentrates the soap between meals.
In some people, bile salts or cholesterol deposits form polyps, gallstones, and sludge. Those deposits build up in some cases. Like soap scum that can clog a soap dispenser, gallstones become a problem when they obstruct the bile tubes. The resulting “back up” can cause pain.
Why Does It Matter?
If the gallbladder gets obstructed with gallstones and becomes infected, fatal disease can result. But gallbladder cancer rarely occurs. But the majority of patients with gallbladder disease simply have ongoing pain and misery. This can be disruptive or just a source of annoyance that affects your daily life.
What Do I Need To Do About It?
The most common affliction of the gallbladder is gallstones. Your primary care giver can order an ultrasound test to determine whether you have gallstones or not. If that test is negative, the next test is a HIDA (hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid) scan. For this test, a mild radioactive dye is injected in the veins and accumulates in the gallbladder. The scan will show if the gallbladder is not functioning well. If this test shows poor function, you may be a candidate for surgery. A CT Scan usually can’t detect gallstones.
Where Can I Get Help?
At Cascade Hernia & Surgical Solutions, we perform gallbladder surgery on patients with known gallbladder disease, safely and efficiently. Getting your surgery here means more convenience, privacy and individual attention at a lower cost than in a hospital setting. Ask your physician if you would be a candidate for outpatient surgery.
Why Should I Pursue Surgery Now?
Gallbladder attacks are intensely painful and unpredictable. Within a two-year period, 50 percent of gallbladder patients will need emergency surgery. That’s when complications are 10 times as likely to occur.
If you know you have a gallbladder problem, you can take control now. Planning your own surgery means lower costs, timing that works for you, and less risk for complications. Why wait for the next unpleasant surprise? Call Cascade Hernia & Surgical Solutions today!
Are gallstones normal?
Gallstones are a normal part of aging. About 80 percent of Americans have them by the time they reach the age of 80. Women may develop gallstones at an earlier age with pregnancy being the most common reason. 80 percent of people who have gallstones die of other causes and were never aware of the presence of those gallstones, or if so, so minimally that it was not disruptive.
When do gallstone attacks occur?
After meals and in the middle of the night is when most people experience gallbladder attacks.
After a meal, you may feel cramping in the right upper abdomen or towards the right shoulder, and you may feel nauseous. The attack may last from 10 minutes to 10 hours. The pain happens quickly and usually goes away after about a half hour. Or, the pain may take day or two to go away.
Between attacks, people generally have normal digestion and may be able to eat the exact same things that seemed to prompt the attack in the first place. So sometimes people think their first attack or two was indigestion or food poisoning.
Gallstone pain also occurs in middle of the night. These attacks are a result of the gallbladder squeezing to empty itself when it has overly filled from the ongoing production of bile by the liver. Those who sleep on the left side or back are more likely to have those attacks than those who sleep on the right side because of the mobile nature of the stones and the trajectory to cause an obstruction.
What’s the right Gallbladder surgery for you?
Laparoscopic or robotic surgeries are options.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has been the standard approach for gallbladder surgery for the last 20 years. It can be safely done in healthy patients as an outpatient with significantly less expense than gallbladder surgery done in the hospital setting. The best time to undergo gallbladder surgery is when you are otherwise healthy and have had enough symptoms where the diagnosis has been made clear and a healthy patient is undergoing an elective surgery.
In robotic surgery, the surgeon is actually manipulating a robot and is not at the patient’s side. The expensive technology is only available in a hospital setting, so surgical fees will be at least $20,000 higher than fees and expenses if the surgery were done laparoscopically and in an outpatient setting. Surgeons are just beginning to get acquainted with the robotic technique. Experience is critical. There is no advantage in robotic surgery for gallbladder issues.
For your own safety, you should be careful to ask whether the surgeon has done at least 50 robotic gallbladder surgeries.
What are the risks?
Gallbladder surgery is a routine and safe procedure that rarely results in complications for otherwise healthy patients.
For a patient with congenital abnormalities in the bile tube system, bile duct interruption or leakage can result. Injury to the main bile duct system occurs in one in 1,000 gallbladder operations, most often because of this anatomical defect. Even though it’s rare for a patient to be concerned with this situation, at Cascade Hernia & Surgical Solutions, we perform x-rays routinely during gallbladder surgery to minimize the risk of this catastrophic injury.