Gallstones are pieces of solid matter that form in the gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ that stores bile, a brown liquid that is made by the liver and used to digest food. They range in size from a grain of sand to a large marble, and the gallbladder can contain hundreds of these stones. Surgery to remove the gallbladder itself is often recommended for patients with gallstones in the gallbladder.
Many times gallstones are found by chance on an unrelated X-ray or ultrasound. These "silent" gallstones create no symptoms, and need no treatment. But when a gallstone blocks the flow of bile through or out of the gallbladder, a patient may have intense pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. This condition requires immediate medical attention.
Most gallbladders are removed with laparascopic cholecystectomy, a straightforward and common operation that uses small incisions and a video camera.
You will be under general anesthesia, unconscious and unable to feel any pain. The surgeon will make several short cuts in your abdomen, and pass a tiny video camera and surgical instruments through these incisions. The camera sends images from inside the body to a TV monitor. Guided by these images, the surgeon uses the surgical tools to separate the gallbladder from its attachments. The gallbladder is then removed through a small incision in the bellybutton.
The abdominal muscles are not cut during laparoscopic surgery, so you will feel very little pain after the procedure. Patients can usually go home from the hospital within a day and resume normal activities within a week.
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