Gallstones form in the gallbladder and are made up of cholesterol and bile pigments. They vary in size and often stop the gallbladder from working correctly. If they block the tube draining the gallbladder they can cause intense pain and smaller stones can migrate into the bile duct causing jaundice or pancreatitis. The treatment of gallstones involves removal of the gallbladder along with the stones as the organ is usually inflamed and not functioning correctly.
During keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery four small incisions are made in the abdomen so that the diseased gallbladder can be removed. The benefits of keyhole surgery include enhanced recovery, less pain and a better cosmetic result.
Living without a gallbladder
In the vast majority of cases patients will notice no difference once they have recovered from surgery and can resume a normal lifestyle with no dietary restrictions.
Treatment of gallstones within the bile duct
When gallstones have migrated to the bile duct, they can be removed with a specialist telescopic procedure known as ERCP, which is performed via a tube inserted through the mouth into the stomach. This is performed as a day case
procedure under local anaesthetic and sedation.
Rare complications of surgery
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy is usually a straightforward procedure if carried out by an experienced surgeon. As part of the consent process your surgeon will mention complications which, though uncommon, can arise following surgery. These include open surgery (1%), bile leak (1%) requiring a further procedure and, very uncommonly, bile duct injury (0.1%) which requires reconstructive surgery.