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Considered one of the most common and safest methods used to removed gallstones or to remove an infected or inflamed gallbladder, cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure that has some risks associated with it.
According to the American College of Surgeons, infections, bile duct injury, bleeding, or injury to the intestines or abdominal organs are all possible health conditions that may result from the procedure.
Death, however, is an “extremely rare” consequence in healthy people, with 0 to 1 per 1,000 patients reported.
Find out what you need to know about the gallbladder…
What is your gallbladder?
This is a small organ about 4 inches in size that is attached to your liver, it is oblong and or pear shape in size.
Where is your gallbladder?
The gallbladder is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen right below the liver, and if there are any problems typically the patient complains of pain in this location right below the ribs. Some patients also experience nausea.
What does your gallbladder do?
The gallbladder’s main function is to store bile which helps the body break down and digest fats that you eat, and the gallbladder is part of the biliary system which serves as the storage reservoir for the bile. Then the bile flows into the small intestine and helps to break down fats.
Why can you live without your gallbladder?
To treat certain gallbladder problems, sometimes the gallbladder must be surgically removed. But not to worry because the gallbladder is one organ your body can do without. The body can cope with losing its extra storage space for bile by filling the bile ducts, which transport bile from the liver to the small intestine and use them to store the excess bile.
Gall bladder surgery or for a more technical term cholecystectomy is performed because of gall stone problems, and there are two different procedures to choose from.
How is the gallbladder removed?
The first is open cholecystectomy. This method requires a single large incision under the right rib cage and the operation takes 1 to 2 hours, your stay in the hospital can last 2 to 5 days.
The second is laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This technique substitutes four tiny incisions for the single large one. One is made just below the belly button and two more are made in the abdomen above the right hip, a fourth is needed just below the ribs in the middle of the chest. A small scope is inserted through one incision and miniature remote controlled surgical tools are inserted through the others, and to give the surgeon an unobstructed view the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas throughout the procedure. Just like an open cholecystectomy the operation takes 1 to 2 hours. However, your hospital stay may be less than a day.
Organs and ducts involved in this surgery are small and close together, and because the surgery is done by television camera rather than by direct site and direct contact, there are increased risks associated with laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. During the operation, the doctor will check for stones in the duct that drains the gallbladder, and remove them as well.
Laparoscopic surgery must be performed by a well-trained surgeon or terrible consequences can result, such as the most frequent injury that occurs during the procedure is the cutting of the common bile or common hepatic duct. And because the anatomy of each person is different, it is essential for the surgeon to be careful in properly identifying the ducts he/she intends to cut. If this does not go as planned because of the thin and small ducts involved, if the bile duct is mistakenly cut or nicked during the surgery bile will seep into the abdominal cavity and poison the patient.
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery complications when improperly performed can lead to bile leakage, infection, bile peritonitis, abscess and even death. In the event of a mistake or nicking of the common bile duct, bile may back up into the bloodstream causing jaundice, or it may leak out into the abdominal cavity.
Biliary duct injuries can be devastating and sometimes fatal to patients who undergo gallbladder surgery. And if the common bile duct is damaged during the first surgery, corrective surgery may be needed to correct the damage to the duct. The patient may suffer permanent pain and or digestive problems when bile cannot flow through to the intestines, raised liver enzymes, jaundice and severe pain can result.
Another problem after injury is cholangitis, an infection or inflammation of the bile ducts, causing bacteria and other waste products in the small intestine to flow upward causing infection. Cholangitis can be life threatening if not treated. A few symptoms include patients may only notice that they’re not feeling well, but eventually the patient will become jaundiced and the liver will stop functioning.
Leakage of bile eventually causes symptoms of pain and breathing difficulties, and because of the serious consequences of a bile leak which poisons the body and can cause death. Any such symptoms following surgery need to be promptly investigated.
An even more serious situation may be symptoms that do not show up immediately, like bile peritonitis or bile leaking into the abdominal cavity. The infection can lead to organ failure and even death and must be acted upon immediately when the symptoms first appear, and this is a situation where there should be no waiting and immediate action should be taken.
The biggest risk found in all gallbladder removal procedures is having an untrained surgeon, and this has become such a problem on the national level that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a conference to discuss the problem.
 Information read and reviewed from various web and text book medical information.
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