Gallstones are stones formed in the gallbladder, which is a small pouch where bile is stored ready to be released into the small intestine to help with digesting food. Gallstones are very common however most people never experience symptoms.
When a stone blocks the passage of the bile, a pain in the right upper part of the abdomen can occur. Sometimes, stones can travel away from the gallbladder into the common bile duct. At this point, the stones can either pass spontaneously into the small intestine or they need to be removed with an endoscopic procedure (ERCP).
Complications of the gallstones include inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), infection (cholangitis). These complications can lead to pain, fever, jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin), vomiting. The treatment for gallstones, when symptoms occur, is the surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy).
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy (keyhole surgery)
The surgery to remove the gallbladder is called laparoscopic cholecystectomy.It is performed under general anesthetic via four small cuts. Each cuts measures between 5mm and 10mm. Fine surgical instruments are inserted and used to remove your gallbladder.
Your surgeon may decide to perform an x-Ray called cholangiogram, during the operation, to identify stones that may have dislodged in the bile duct (main bile pipe) or to check on the anatomy. If a stone is found in the common bile duct, an endoscopic procedure called ERCP will be performed to remove the dislodged stone.
After the gallbladder is removed, the cuts are sutured with absorbable skin sutures or with surgical glue. Eating and drinking can be resumed soon after surgery. After a few hours you may go home.
For more information about risks of surgery, return to work, pain, please visit the FAQs page on this website.