Gallbladder Treatments – Magdi Alexander MD


The gallbladder is a small organ resembling a pouch, sitting just below the liver. The gallbladder stores the bile secreted by the liver. For digestive purposes, the gallbladder squeezes the bile into the small intestine, which helps digest fats. However, the gallbladder itself is not an essential organ and can be removed without causing any observable health problems.

Why Would a Person Need to Treat the Gallbladder?

Cholelithiasis, also known as gallstones, occur when substances in the bile crystallizes in the gallbladder. It can cause pain, nausea, or inflammation. Oftentimes, it is the source to cholecystitis when a gallstone gets stuck in the tube (cystic duct).

Cholecystitis is a common reason for gallbladder treatment. When the gallbladder becomes inflamed it disrupts the flow of bile, which then leads to swelling, pain and possible infection; it can cause severe pain and fever and requires surgery. It can also occur from infection or trauma.

When a gallstone momentarily obstructs the flow in the cystic duct, it will cause a sudden temporary pain, causing the gallbladder to contract, also known as a gallbladder attack or biliary colic.

Chronic cholecystitis occurs over a long span of time. When the gallbladder remains swollen over time it will lead to the thickening and hardening of the walls of the gallbladder.

Gallbladder Symptoms

Cholecystitis usually causes pain in the upper right abdomen. This pain may radiate from the right shoulder or back, and there will be a tenderness over the abdomen when touched. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and fever. These symptoms will often occur after a meal, especially large or fatty meals.

Gallbladder Treatment

In a cholecystectomy, gallbladder surgery, a surgeon will remove the gallbladder, either through laparoscopy or traditional open surgery, the latter requiring larger incisions. Also, since there may be many affected areas, the treatment may require an endoscopic procedure (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP) to remove the gallstones before the gallbladder can be removed. Though surgery may not always be required, it is the only tried and true method to treat gallstones.

Robotic Gallbladder Surgery

Robotic surgery surpasses the limitations of other minimally invasive surgical techniques like standard laparoscopic surgery. The precision of the smaller movements implemented in robotic surgery will allow surgeon to decisively perform the surgery by guiding the surgical instruments through special controls that move the robotic arms. It is a combination of the personal experience of a surgeon and the exact precision of robotic technology. During the surgery, the computer software will filter out a surgeon’s naturally occurring hand tremors and will not transmit it to the robotic arm. Robotic surgery is also physically less draining on surgeons as they are not needed to stand during the entire surgery. Also, the increased viewing capabilities and three-dimensional magnification improves the comfort of the surgeon. All these factors allow for a much smoother and successful surgery.

Not all hospitals have access to robotic surgery, but it has several significant advantages. Not only are incisions smaller and more precise, there is less blood loss, less pain, faster recovery time, shorter hospital stay, and less use of pain medication.

If you have been diagnosed with gallstones or had previous cholecystitis, consider having an operation, or at least being evaluated by a surgeon to determine if an operation is the right thing for you.

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