The gallbladder is a sac located under the liver that stores bile. Bile helps the body digest fats. The gallbladder releases bile into the upper small intestine in response to food, especially fatty foods.
Some gallbladder disorders can be treated without surgery. However, others require the gallbladder to be removed. Below is a list of gallbladder issues and surgical treatment options provided by our experienced general surgery team.
Common issues we treat
Gallstones: These hard deposits form inside the gallbladder. Many have gallstones without symptoms. However, if a stone prevents the gallbladder from draining, you may experience pain. In general, people who have symptoms will need surgery right away or soon after the stone is found.
Acute cholecystitis: If bile gets trapped in the gallbladder, this is called acute cholecystitis. If bile builds up, it causes irritation and pressure in the gallbladder. This can lead to swelling and infection. Cholecystitis may clear up on its own. However, if you have gallstones, you will probably need to have your gallbladder removed.
Choledocholithiasis: The small tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the intestine is called the common bile duct. When there is at least one gallstone in the common bile duct, it is called choledocholithiasis.
Other disorders: Less common disorders that can be treated surgically include dysfunctional gallbladders, those that have developed gangrene or an abscess, those with growths or polyps, and gallstone pancreatitis.
Procedures available at St. Luke’s
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal: Most gallbladder removals can be performed laparoscopically. During this minimally invasive procedure, 4 small incisions will be made in the belly. Then, an instrument called a laparoscope will be used to remove the gallbladder.
Robotic gallbladder removal: Some surgeons may prefer to remove the gallbladder with the help of surgical robot. This is similar to the laparoscopic approach, requiring only 4 small incisions in the belly.
Open gallbladder removal: Open gallbladder surgery is used when laparoscopic surgery cannot be done safely. This procedure involves removing the gallbladder through a large incision in the abdomen. In some cases, the surgeon may need to switch to an open surgery if laparoscopic surgery cannot be successfully continued.