Gallbladder Surgery FAQ Detroit
- Is this surgery done with a laser?
Initially, in the late 1980s, the surgery was done with Laser as a heat source, but regular electric cautery has proven more practical. However, the term Laser stuck when discussing removal of the gallbladder when in fact, it is by Laparoscope not Laser.
- How often is this procedure performed?
This is one of the most common procedures done by general surgeons. Dr. Chengelis has done over a thousand in his career with an excellent safety record.
- What happens to the gas?
Carbon dioxide gas is removed at the end of the procedure. Small amounts can remain and on rare occasion cause shoulder pain which resolves in a few days.
- What are the risks of the procedure?
The major risks are leakage of bile, damage to a bile duct, bleeding, infection. All are very unusual, particularly in the elective setting.
- Why not just remove the stones and not the gallbladder?
This is not technically practical and makes no sense since the organ is not needed.
- Any other treatment besides surgery for gallstones?
A medication called ursodiol (Actigal) may slowly dissolve some gallstones in a small number of people. Treatments such as trying to melt the stones with solvents, fracture them with lithotripsy (like kidney stones) have been tired but have proven impractical, mostly ineffective; especially when compared to laparoscopic removal of the organ.
- How much time until I can resume activities such as driving ?
On average most people feel recovered in about 4 or 5 days. As with all laparoscopic surgery, resumption of activities can be done when the patient feels able to do so. So, if you are comfortable with driving in a couple of days and can do so safely without narcotic pain medicine then you may proceed. The same goes for any activity.
- What are my diet restrictions after the surgery ?
Removal of the gall bladder does not limit your diet or eliminate any particular foods from your diet. Some patients may experience minor changes in digestion and/or bowel function which is usually not long lasting.
- How much pain will I experience ?
About 70 % of patients will have only mild to moderate pain and only need over-the-counter pain medication upon returning home the day of surgery. This means you should try medications such as Tylenol or Motrin to control the discomfort before you fill the narcotic prescription. Some patients will need narcotic prescription which can cause nausea and constipation and dizziness. You should not drive while taking narcotics. The incision by the belly button tends to cause the most pain and can bruise on occasion.
- What is Single Incision Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy (SILS) ?
This is a new technique in laparoscopic surgery. A single incision made in the umbilicus (belly button) takes the place of the usual four small incisions spaced on the abdomen. Once healed, the umbilical incision is difficult to see and is nearly “scarless”. This is an exciting option for patients for whom cosmetic considerations are important. However, SILS is not the ideal choice for some patients.