What is Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a pear shaped sac about the size of a golf ball that lies beneath the right side of the liver. Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate bile which is a natural agent fordissolving fats in the food we eat.
Gallbladder problems are usually caused by the presence of gallstones. It the gallstone is large and travels into the cystic duct, it may block the flow of bile out of the gallbladder. With its outlet blocked, the gallbladder begins to swell and when the gallbladder becomes overfilled with bile, backflow of bile may occur. As a result, the gallbladder becomes infected.
They include sharp right sided or central abdominal pain, usually after meals, especially after oily food. The pain may radiate to the back or shoulder tip. These may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever or jaundice.
After learning your medical history, your doctor may examine you to find out about signs, health problems, risk factors that point to gallbladder problems, Diagnostic investigations such as blood tests, ultrasound and CT scan may be used to confirm the problem.
In the past, medication is used to dissolve gallstones. However, this treatment takes 18 months and gallstones tend to recur, furthermore, such treatment is only suitable for pure cholesterol stones, hence it is not recommended.
• Open cholecystectomy
This is the traditional way of removing the gallbladder through a large abdominal incision. Risks and complications include excessive bleeding or infection.
• Laparoscopic cholecystectomy
With this technique, the removal of the gallbladder can be accomplished through only four small openings, each less than one centimeter in diameter. Here, a laparoscope (telescope with a camera attached) is inserted through a tiny incision to give a magnified view of the gallbladder. Instruments are then inserted through other tiny incisions whereby the gallbladder is detached from the liver bed and removed through an opening in the navel.
By operating through four tiny openings instead of the traditional 20cm long incision, most patients have significantly less postoperative pain. They also heal faster and return to normal activities sooner than patients who have undergone the traditional way of operation. In addition, this new operation technique leaves smaller scars compared to the traditional method.