For Gallstone Sufferers: Is Gallbladder Surgery Really Necessary?

You may have been contemplating on whether you should undergo gallbladder surgery or not. You are probably sick of feeling a lot of pain in your upper abdominal area, chest pains, back pains, flatulence, nausea, weight gain, headaches, and diarrhea. Is taking out your gallbladder the only solution?

Gallbladder Surgery Pros

The gallbladder is not necessary for survival. It stores bile that is produced by your liver. After cholecystectomy (the removal of the gallbladder), the liver will still produce bile, which will flow through the hepatic duct, to the bile duct, and into the small intestines. The only difference is that when you eat a fatty meal, the gallbladder secretes extra bile to help with the digestion of fat. However, the body is usually able to adjust to this change without any major problems.

Gallbladder Surgery Cons

Occasionally, patients have the original symptoms again after cholecystectomy. The return of the symptoms can range anywhere from weeks to years, if they happen at all.

These symptoms occur because the excess cholesterol in your liver can cause crystallization in the bile duct or the liver itself. The symptoms that may reoccur are: mild discomfort in the digestive area to intense abdominal pain. Increased flatulence, an irrated bowel, upper abdominal pain (which is where the gallbladder was once located), and s gain or a loss in weight. If a gallstone forms and blocks the bile duct, it may result in jaundice, a condition where bile is forced into the blood stream and causes the whites of your eyes and your skin to turn yellow.

The function of the gallbladder is to store bile. When one undergoes gallbladder surgery, the liver allows the flow of bile into the small intestines more frequently, causing diarrhea in a very small population of about 1 percent. Some individuals will not be able to eat very fatty foods after undergoing cholecystectomy.

For some individuals, the symptoms may even increase in frequency. The return of gallstones can be removed by a gastroenterologist successfully using the ERCP procedure. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a technique that uses fluoroscopy and endoscopy to help diagnose and treat problems in the biliary or pancreatic systems.

Gallbladder Surgery Alternatives

One non-surgical treatment is to use medicine, such as oral bile acid pills. These pills contain chenodiol or ursodial, which helps dissolve the gallstones by thinning out the bile. These pills work well on patients who have small gallstones that are made of cholesterol only.

Other treatments include: extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, contact dissolution therapy, and pecutaneous cholecystostomy.

If you have questions, see your local physician to determine if gallbladder surgery is right for you, or if a non-surgical treatment is more suitable.