Gallbladder and Gallstones

What are gallstones?

The image above shows the only scar left after a hernia operation. The photograph was taken on the day of surgery.

Gallstones are ‘stones’ that form in the gallbladder. They are quite common especially in women (upto 10%). Gallstones may be asymptomatic but may also be troublesome.

6% per year of asymptomatic gallstones will develop symptoms the following year and may cause pain. Commonly the trouble it causes are pain (bilary colic) and infection (cholecystitis). Sometimes the gallstone may move and block the gallbladder or the common bile duct causing jaundice, pancreatitis, or a painful distended gallbladder (mucocele) which can become infected (empyema).

What are the benefits of surgery?

Surgery is to treat the pain and symptoms the gallstone can cause.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

It is possible to dissolve the stones or even shatter them into small pieces but these techniques involve unpleasant drugs and side effects, have a high failure rate and the gallstones usually come back.

Antibiotics can be used to treat any infections of the gallbladder. A low-fat diet may help to prevent attacks of pain.

However, symptoms are likely to come back.

What does the operation involve?

This image shows the only scar left by a gastrectomy. The photograph was taken on the day of surgery.

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic. The laparoscopic (‘keyhole’) technique is usually performed.

The traditional surgeon will make several small cuts on your abdomen. They will place surgical instruments, along with a telescope, inside your abdomen and perform the operation. In the LESS Scar clinic we offer a single incision hidden inside the belly button. Using special equipment we can pass our instruments within this one tiny hole. This reduces the scars associated with traditional surgery and enhances appearances. There is accumulating research showing this is less painful for the patient and may be less traumatic.

Your surgeon will free up the gallbladder duct (cystic duct) and artery. They will then separate the gallbladder from the liver and remove it.

What complications can happen?

1. General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

2. Specific complications of this operation

Single port Cholecystecomy after one month - the scar is very difficult to notice.

a. Laparoscopic complications

  • Damage to internal organs
  • Developing a hernia in cut
  • Surgical emphysema

b. Cholecystectomy complications

  • Leaking of bile or stones
  • Retained stones
  • Persistent pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammation in the abdomen
  • Bile duct injury
  • Bowel injury
  • Serious damage to the liver

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home later on the same day.

You should be able to return to work when you feel comfortable.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. We ask you do not lift heavily for 6 weeks.

You should make a full recovery and be able to eat a normal diet immediately after surgery.

9 Harley Street

Tel: 0207 079 2161
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BMI Mount Alvernia Hospital
Harvey Road
Surrey GU1 3LX

Tel: 01483 570122

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24 Albyn Place
AB10 1RW

Tel: 0333 240 0421
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