Gallbladder surgery is the removal of the gallbladder. This is commonly done when a patient suffers from gallstones, inflammation or infection of the gallbladder. People who have had their gallbladder removed can live a normal life, but they must be more careful about what they eat. Symptoms that present after gallbladder surgery can vary from pain at the incision site to bloating, nausea and vomiting, as well as symptoms from rare but more serious complications, such as internal bleeding.
There are two ways to perform gallbladder surgery. The first is the traditional way, where a large incision is made under the right side of the rib cage. The gallbladder is then cut loose and removed through that opening. It takes between one and two hours, and the hospital stay averages between two to five days. The second way of performing the surgery is through theuse of laparoscopic tools. Four very small incisions are made in the body: One below the belly button, two in the abdomen and one below the ribs. A tiny light is inserted through one opening, and tiny remote controlled surgical tools are inserted through the rest. A surgeon uses these tools to remove the gallbladder. The operation takes between one to two hours and can even be done on an outpatient basis.
After the surgery, many people have ongoing symptoms, such as pain in the abdomen, as well as bloating and gas. Diarrhea is also common and can last for weeks. Most people also suffer from pain in the abdomen and shoulder that is a result of the gas used to inflate the chest cavity (used in both types of surgeries). This pain usually lasts from one to four days but can last for up to one week. In addition, the muscles might ache as a side effect from the anesthesia, and you may have some nausea as well.
Sometimes, there are rare complications during gallbladder surgery. If you have severe pain in your abdomen after the surgery, this could be a sign that some gallstones have leaked or been pushed into the bile duct or abdominal cavity. In addition, if you develop a sudden high fever, this could be an indication that there was an injury to the liver, common bile duct or an infection at the incision site. Such symptoms should cause you to seek out medical treatment immediately.
Even if your gallbladder is removed, problems with your bile can still occur. Production can slow down, producing thick, sluggish bile, or it can speed up, causing you to have to run for the restroom shortly after every meal. To prevent such concerns, eat a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, and avoid fatty foods and caffeine and alcohol, all of which are known to trigger more production of bile in the liver.
There is some controversy whether or not complete removal of the gallbladder is necessary in some cases, such as when the issue is polyps, which do not create symptoms, or small gallstones that can be managed with a proper diet. Some doctors believe that the surgery is over-performed, and that patients should be taught the proper care of their gallbladder rather than simply removing it.