Cholecystectomy – Laparoscopic Method of Gall Bladder Removal

It is estimated that about 20 million people in the United States suffer from gallstones. About 750,000 patients undergo the cholecystectomy procedure. It is the surgical removal of the gall bladder.

The gallbladder is essentially a small sac like structure which is used to store bile. Bile is a substance that is produced by the liver to aid in the digestion of fats. Bile is stored in the gallbladder in between meals and is released into the small intestine as and when necessary to help break down fats. Gallstones form when the bile becomes thicker due to the presence of bile salts, excess cholesterol and other wastes. These gallstones can get into the common bile duct and obstruct the bile flow. This could lead to infection and several other complications.

Removing the gallbladder is mostly suggested in this case. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a newer method of surgically removing the gall bladder along with the stones.

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Procedure

The surgeons perform the operation by giving general anaesthesia to the affected person. The surgery involves the following steps:

  • An incision is made in the upper right area of abdomen.
  • A narrow tube (cannula) is inserted into the region of umbilicus of abdomen.
  • Through this tube, a camera connected with a telescope and light is passed into the abdomen.
  • A television monitor is connected to the camera to have a view of all the internal organs.
  • Another narrow tube (cannula) is passed into the abdomen. Through this tube, thin and long instruments are passed.
  • By using these instruments, gall bladder is separated from the other surrounding structures and excised from one of the tube.
  • The incision is closed and stitched back with staples or sutures.

Benefits of Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has many benefits. This is the reason why most of the doctors suggest people with gall bladder damage and stones to opt for laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The surgery has the following benefits:

  • Shorter recovery time
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain and discomfort after the surgery
  • Incision is not noticeable and scars disappear quickly after the surgery
  • Abdominal muscles are not cut unlike in an open surgery

The National Institutes of Health has noted laproscopic cholecystectomy to be both a safe and effective procedure.

Once the gallbladder removal surgery has been performed, there are usually some restrictions on diet as far as the condition is concerned.

To learn more about post cholecystectomy diet read our article “Post Cholecystectomy Diet”.

What are the gallbladder removal side effects?

Medically, it is thought that the gallbladder removal side effects do not interfere with the proper functioning of the body. However, for some, surgery is not the end of the misery. Some of the complications of the procedure are as follows:

About 10% of patients suffer from this side effect post surgery. The storehouse for bile is removed. But the production of bile has not stopped. The bile is now directly dumped into the intestine. This affects the speed of transit of the food through the intestine. The speed with which food passes through the intestine is hastened and the result is diarrhea. Sometimes the patient needs to go to the bathroom after every meal.

Dumping syndrome
The dumping of the bile directly into the small intestine can cause the food to pass rapidly through the stomach into the intestine. This can cause instant diarrhea.

Bile stones
The secretion of the bile from the liver can become less. If the bile becomes thick and sluggish, the bile stones can form in the liver and cause obstruction in the bile ducts. In this case, the pain and the discomfort would all be back.

This is a condition which is caused in a scenario of a bile duct obstruction caused by a gallstone. The bile salts and acids could get deposited on the skin and cause intense itching.

Abdominal pain in the upper right quadrant
There would be a constant pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen which could radiate to the shoulder and arms.

Indigestion and acid reflux
Many times the production of bile by the liver goes down. Hence, on ingestion of a meal with more fat, there is not enough bile to help in the digestion of the consumed fat. This occurrence is experienced with a lot of gastrointestinal complications. Bloating, gas, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, cramps, increased acid reflux etc are commonly reported to go up post surgery.

Suggestions to reduce gallbladder removal side effects

  • Eat a diet which is low in fat and high in fiber. It is extremely important to stay away from hydrogenated fats and transfats to bring down the discomfort. The fats consumed should be poly or mono unsaturated fats.
  • Choose leaner cuts of meat, skinless chicken and fish.
  • Eat five to six small meals throughout the day. This will ensure that there is enough bile to properly digest the food.
  • Eat plenty of raw and green vegetables and fruits.
  • Add controlled portions of eggs and low fat dairy in diet.
  • Take foods rich in essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Seeds such as hemp seeds, flax seeds, avocado, nuts, cold water fish etc are rich in them.
  • Fried foods, spicy foods and carbonated beverages should be totally avoided.

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