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William W. Turner, M.D. Answers Questions On Gallbladder Surgery

William W. Turner, M.D. Answers Questions On: Gallbladder Surgery

How do you determine when gallbladder surgery is necessary?

When a patient is referred to me for gallstones, the first thing I try to determine is whether the gallstones are causing symptoms. Many patients believe that if they have gallstones, they need to have their gallbladders removed. That’s not necessarily true. People with gallstones who do not have symptoms usually do not need to have gallbladder surgery. Hopefully that’s a relief to them.

What if their gallstones are causing symptoms?

If they have classic symptoms, like sudden pain in the abdomen, we’ll remove the gallbladder to relieve the problem. 

We are usually able to do this laparoscopically, which means the surgery is relatively simple; they go home quickly; and they need only a few days to recover.

How do you perform gallbladder surgery?

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. We use tools to monitor intraoperatively what’s going on in the body. In a standard situation, I make four small openings in the abdomen. Through the openings, we insert small tubes that allow us to pass instruments in and out of the abdomen. We put carbon dioxide into the abdomen to create space to work.

Using the instruments that we put through the small tubes, we manipulate the gallbladder from the organs to which it’s attached, put it into a bag inside the abdomen, and extract the bag out of one of the tube insertion sites. We close the openings, awaken the patient, and transport the patient to the recovery room.

Is the gallbladder an unnecessary organ?

It does have a function, but the body adapts, and you can do without it, usually never knowing that it’s gone.