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Gallstone - surgery

Gallstone – Surgery

Gallstones are a common occurrence especially in some parts of the world such as ours. It occurs in about 6% of our population.

Fortunately, most are asymptomatic and do not cause any problems. But when they do, it can be dangerous and even fatal.

What are the complications of gallstones?

Gallstones can lead to dyspepsia, abdominal pain, jaundice, pancreatitis and cancer. Most patients complain of sense of bloating after meals especially when heavy. Some complain of intolerance to oily food. Some patients experience severe pain and may present in the emergency. These need urgent admission and treatment usually in the form of a surgery.

The more dangerous complications of gallstones are when the stone slips off into the bile duct and the pancreatic duct. These can lead to severe infection and jaundice. Some patients with these complications do not survive especially if the diagnosis and treatment is not prompt.

What is the treatment of gallstones?

Elderly patients with gallstones not having symptoms can be watched and monitored. Surgery is offered only when symptoms occur.

In our parts of the world, the incidence of gallbladder cancer is high. Therefore even younger patients are offered surgery since the risk of the surgery is lower than the risk of the cancer.

How is the surgery for gallstones done ?

Surgery is done by laparoscopic approach. Generally, 4 tiny holes are made through which a fine telescope and instruments are introduced. Gallbladder along with the stones are extracted through one of the holes. Usually, there are no stitches. Most patients have minimal pain, no stitch marks and one night hospital stay.

Where should I get the surgery done?

Though laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the Keyhole commonest procedure performed in the world and it is an extremely safe procedure, there can be a few risks and complications one should be aware of.

The most important complication is of a bile duct injury that can be a lifelong nightmare for some patients.
The other issue is of wound infections that can take a long time to heal because of the difficult bugs that are involved.