Frequently, the gallbladder contains stones or develops an infection than can interfere with its role in the digestive process. The exact causes of these conditions are not known. Anyone can develop gallbladder disease, but it is more common in people who are overweight, and between the ages of 35 and 55. Women are more likely to be associated with metabolic changes that take place during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Gladder Disease
- Frequent bouts of indigestion, especially after eating fatty or greasy foods
- Nausea, heartburn, and bloating
- Attacks of sharp pains in the upper right part of the abdomen. This pain occurs when the gallstone becomes lodged in the duct from the gallbladder to the intestine
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin) may occur
Diagnosis of gallbladder disease
Because the majority of patients who have gallbladder disease also have gallstones, the diagnosis can usually be confirmed through the use of the ultrasound, a sage and painless technique that use high frequency sound waves to project an image of the gallbladder and gallstones on a special screen.
Treatment of gallbladder disease
The only curative treatment for gallbladder disease is surgical removal of the gallbladder. Generally, when stones are present and causing symptoms, or when the gallbladder is infected and inflamed, removal of the organ is usually necessary.
In this procedure, the surgeon uses video technology and highly specialized tools to remove the gallbladder without making a large surgical incision. Instead, the surgeon makes four small holes of less than half an inch each. A laparoscope is then inserted into one of the holes so as to allow the surgeon to see the inside of the body.
The instrument that cuts the gallbladder free may be either a surgical laser or an electrocautery device. Both procedures employ localized heat to prevent bleeding. Whichever tools your surgeon elects to use, such a procedure has been proven safe and effective in thousands of similar operations.
Once the gallbladder has been cut free, the surgeon drains it of bile, collapses the organ and removes it through the incision at the navel. After the operation, patients are often back on their feet and on their way home the very next day. Many return to work within a week and once healed; the scars left from the four incisions are so small that they are barely noticeable.