The most common treatment for gallbladder symptoms is a surgical procedure referred to as a cholecystectomy. This procedure used to require a large abdominal incision to remove the gallbladder. However, this procedure is now commonly performed laparoscopically (minimally invasive). There are still rare cases where an open incision must be used. The minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure can be performed at a surgery center and requires only very small incisions. Laparoscopic procedures promote a speedy recovery time and, in most cases, the patient does not experience much pain.
Generally, gallbladder symptoms are referred to as an "attacks" because they occur suddenly. Gallbladder attacks often follow the intake of a fatty meal, may occur during the night and can be accompanied by excessive vomiting. The typical gallbladder attack includes:
- Steady, severe pain in the upper abdomen that increases and can last several hours.
- Pain in the back between the shoulder blades.
- Pain under the right shoulder.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Abdominal bloating.
- Intolerance of fatty foods.
- Excessive belching / gas.
- Chronic indigestion.
Additionally, the following symptoms are indications of more serious conditions, and you should seek medical care immediately:
- Severe abdominal pain.
- Low grade fever.
- Yellowish tint of the skin or whites of eyes.
- Clay colored stool.
What to Expect if Surgery is Required
Surgeries to address most types of gallbladder removal surgeries are similar to other laparoscopic procedures. General anesthesia is given, and a small minimally-invasive incision is made in or just below the navel. A thin, lighted scope called a laparoscope is inserted through the incision. Other instruments to remove the gallbladder are inserted through additional small incisions in the lower abdomen.
Post-operative discomfort is usually mild. Rarely, patients will require pain medication. Dr. Cole will determine your individual recovery time at the seven day post-operative visit.
Patients are encouraged to engage in light activity while at home after surgery. Most patients are able to get back to their normal activities within seven days after surgery and are able to fully resume their regular lifestyle after one month.