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Description of the Medical Procedure for Gallstone Removal

written by: Teresa Martin • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 6/20/2010

Gallstones interfere with proper digestion and can obstruct the ducts that release bile. When this happens pain can result and may require a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery to remove the stones, often with the gallbladder.

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    What is the Gall Bladder

    The gallbladder is located near the liver. It is important in the digestion of fats and neutralization of acids present in the digestive process. It releases bile through the common duct, flows from the gallbladder to the cystic duct and enters the small intestine acting on fats. A common problem people over the age of forty have with the gallbladder is gallstones, formed from crystallized bile. The stones block the duct, prevent the release of bile to digest fats and neutralize acids. Digestion is affected and severe pain can result if a gallstone becomes lodged in the bile duct.

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    Medical Procedure to Remove Gallstones

    The procedure to remove gallstones and the gall bladder is called laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. Laparoscopic surgery, invented in 1989, provided for a less invasive and quicker recovery time for surgical patients.

    Modern laparoscopic gallbladder procedure involves making three to four small openings around the area of the gallbladder. A video camera can be inserted into a tube inserted in the area of the naval. The presence of the camera allows for small instruments to cut the arteries and ducts attached to the gallbladder.

    This simplified procedure replaces traditional cholecystectomy which involved a large, open incision from the lower portion of the ribs, moving the liver out of the way and cutting the vessels and ducts connected to the gallbladder. The recovery time for this invasive procedure was four to six weeks and was very painful.

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    What You Will Experience in a Laparoscopy

    If you need to have a lapaoscopic procedure to remove your gallbladder and gallstones here is what you can expect.

    An anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia. This is followed by inflation of the abdomen with carbon dioxide allowing for better visualization and movement in the abdomen by the surgeon. Four tiny incisions are made in the abdomen, including the one near the naval.

    The laparoscope with camera is then inserted through the naval incision allowing visualization of the ducts, glands and organs in the abdomen. Other tiny instruments are then inserted through the other cuts in the abdomen for cutting the ducts and vessels and tieing them off. The gallbladder is then freed from the nearby liver, the fluid in the gallbladder is removed and finally the organ is taken out through one of the incisions, usually the incision near the naval.

    The last step in the procedure is to remove the carbon dioxide from the abdominal cavity and close up the incisions with a few stitches.

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    Conclusion

    For most people this is a very safe procedure with a short recovery time. Most people feel no ill effects from their procedure. A few small incisions with little internal movement of organs causes minimal discomfort and usually people will be back in their daily routine within a few days rather than weeks.

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