Gallbladder Removal

Gallbladder surgery, also known as a cholecystectomy, is a procedure to remove the gallbladder.  The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that lies behind your right ribs, right underneath the liver.  It is responsible for carrying bile from the liver to the duodenum.  Sometimes, this organ can become diseased, resulting in inflammation or blockage.  Blockage is typically due to small stones, known as gallstones which can range in size from a tiny pebble to a golf ball-size.

What is Gallbladder Disease?

Gallbladder disease or cholecystitis is a relatively common condition, affecting 10-15 percent of all adults in the U.S.  The most frequent type of gallbladder disease is the formation of gallstones, small stones which primarily consist of bile salts and cholesterol.  The problem becomes more prevalent in people as they age and for those who have a family history of the condition.  Symptoms of gallstones or gallbladder disease include:

  • Severe pain or aching in the upper abdomen (pain may come and go or be constant)
  • A dull ache in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • Nausea, upset stomach or vomiting
  • Frequent bouts of heartburn
  • Sharp attacks of pain after eating a high-fat meal
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever (indication that gallbladder is inflamed)

Benefits of Gallbladder surgery

When lifestyle changes and medication do not effectively treat gallbladder disease, surgery is the next option.  There are approximately one million people who have their gallbladder removed in the U.S. every year.  The surgery is very effective and you can rest assured you can live a long, healthy life without your gallbladder.  Benefits of gallbladder surgery include:

  • Relief from current painful symptoms
  • Prevention of future pain and attacks
  • Different options allow us to customize your procedure to your specific needs
  • Common surgery is relatively safe with a high success rate
  • Many patients enjoy a quicker and less painful recovery than they expect

Options in Gallbladder Surgery

At Missoula Surgical Associates, we offer three different options in gallbladder surgery:

Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal – This procedure uses special instruments and a lighted scope to remove the gallbladder.  Laparoscopic procedures are less invasive than traditional surgical techniques, which means smaller incisions, less post-operative discomfort and shorter recovery times for patients.  Our surgical team will determine whether you are a good candidate for laparoscopic surgery, based on the type and severity of your gallbladder disease and your previous medical history including abdominal surgeries.

Robotic Gallbladder Removal – This innovative surgical technique uses a robotic system to enhance the precision of the surgery and reduce risks.  Missoula Surgical Associates uses the da Vinci robotic system for gallbladder removal, featuring special wristed instruments and a 3D vision and magnification system to provide far better vision, control and accuracy during your surgery.

Open Gallbladder Removal – The traditional form of gallbladder surgery is not used as frequently today, but it is still the recommended technique for patients with severe gallbladder disease or scarring from previous surgeries.  The open technique involves a single, larger incision to reach the gallbladder for removal.  The surgery has a high success rate similar to other gallbladder removal techniques, but does require a longer recovery period.

Gallbladder surgery is common, but you still want the most experienced surgeon to perform your procedure to ensure the best possible results.  The surgeons at Missoula Surgical Associates are experienced in all types of gallbladder removal surgery and will strive to make your procedure as safe, comfortable and successful as possible.  To learn more, contact Missoula Surgical Associates at 406.542.7525.