Surgery for gallstones

Surgery for gallstones

Once the gallstones start giving symptoms, it is important to have the gallbladder and the stones removed. There are some diets that are advised on various non-verified and non-medical websites which promised to ‘dissolve’ the stones. Firstly, these claims are not verified. Secondly, they don’t seem to realise that it’s the gallbladder with is the problem and forming the stones and therefore the gallbladder needs to be removed to avoid any further potentially serious problems.

If the gallbladder isn’t removed in time, there is a chance that the symptoms and the severity of the symptoms might worsen. Furthermore, the operation is a lot safer if it is done when the symptoms are not severe.

What does the operation involve?

It’s a keyhole operation and in most of the patients this can be done as a ‘day case’. You will come into the hospital on the day of the operation and will be able to go home the same day. There will be four cuts, one around the belly button, one at the top of the tummy and a couple on the right-hand side. The gallbladder is separated from its attachments, artery supplying blood to it will be cut between clips and the some clips will be placed on the cystic duct (a small pipe that connects the gallbladder to the bile ducts) and the gallbladder will then be removed from the surface of the liver to which it is normally attached.

Do I need to have any extra procedures?

If you had symptoms of jaundice, dark urine, pale stools or had pancreatitis from the gallstones you will need another procedure called an ‘Intra-operative cholangiogram’. This essentially means that we will put a fine catheter (about 1mm in diameter) through a small cut in the skin (5th cut) into the cystic duct and put some dye into the bile ducts to see if there are any stones in the bile duct. This is usually a straightforward procedure and doesn’t as such add any significant time to your operation. But it ensures that we check your bile ducts and rule out any stones in the bile duct.

What if I have stones in the bile duct?

Mr Jayanthi specialises in removing bile duct stones. Majority of the surgeons opt to refer you to an endoscopic procedure called ERCP to remove the bile duct stones and then plan for an operation to remove the gallbladder at a later date. Mr Jayanthi specialises in a ‘one stop shop’ procedure. He can remove the gallbladder and the bile duct stones at the same time. Details of the operation will be explained to you in more detail at the time of your consultation with Mr Jayanthi.

What are the risks of the operation?

The risks of this operation include that of bleeding and infection as any other operation. Specific to this operation, there is a risk of injury to the bowel, liver and bile ducts. There is also a risk of open operation and bile leak. The risk of bile leak is a little higher if Mr Jayanthi has to make a cut in the bile duct to remove bile duct stones. You may also have to be admitted for overnight observation if you have bile duct stones.