Living with an unhealthy gallbladder can be quite difficult. While for some people gallbladder disease may be asymptomatic, in others the symptoms can make life unbearable. Your doctor may initially suggest a wait-and-watch approach to see if your condition can be alleviated with medication and diet changes. However, a gallbladder attack can occur at any time causing intense abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, and fever. Sometimes, during the wait-and-watch approach gallstones escape out of the gallbladder and into the common bile duct, resulting in serious life-threatening complications like pancreatitis or cholangitis. In a patient who has gallbladder symptoms, surgery just makes more sense and is considered the standard of care.
Gallbladder removal is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the US with laparoscopic surgery being considered the gold standard for surgical gallbladder removal. More than 90% of gallbladder surgeries are performed laparoscopically.
The main advantage of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the small size of surgical incisions, which minimizes pain, risk of incisional hernia or infection, and enhances recovery. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, gallbladder is removed with minimum manipulation of the surrounding tissues leading to faster healing. Most patients go home immediately after surgery and return to work within a week.
Laparoscopic surgery is so successful and the recovery so quick that an increasing number of patients with minimal symptoms from gallstones are making the informed decision to undergo the procedure rather than risk suffering complications which would require emergent treatment.
Once your gallbladder is removed, bile produced by your liver will continue to reach your small intestine through the normal channel of common bile duct. It’s just that the temporary storage that used to occur in your gallbladder will now take place in the common bile duct. With a short duration of modification to your diet and eating habits as recommended by your doctor, you will resume normal eating soon after removal of the malfunctioning gallbladder.