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Having second thoughts on gallbladder removal

Apr 27, 2009 - 4 comments
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gallbladder

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HIDA/CCK

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cholecystectomy

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Gallbladder removal



I've gotten so many mixed signals I don't know what to do.

My first gastroenterologist (Mekjian) did a CT scan on my GB then a HIDA/CCK. Results were no stones, EF of 19%. My current gastroenterologist doesn't trust the HIDA/CCK and after reading this piece...

http://surgeonsblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/its-galling-diagnostic-dilemmas-and.html

... I can understand why, particularly given my history. No stones, GB filled up fine, but it didn't empty properly. This statement really made me think:

"It's been my impression that some motility disorders can affect the gallbladder (that, after all, is what biliary dyskinesia is.) I don't believe it's the other way around; ie, gallbladder dysfunction wouldn't be the cause of other motility disorders."

Well, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis. Expected 1/2 emptying time was 70 minutes, I 1/2 emptied in 80. Needless to say, I'm now wondering whether it's the gastroparesis (or rather, whatever caused the GP) causing the GB troubles, not the other way around.

Well, things have changed a bit: I now have stones in my GB, as per a recent CT. Not many, only one, in fact, a tiny one. Still, my primary says "get the gallbladder out NOW." My new gastro (Mamel) says "Yes, you have stones, and yes you have symptoms, but you were having symptoms before the stones, and the HIDA is an untrustworthy test."

I've asked him about the possibility of SOD and he says it doesn't look to be the case with me: my bloodwork doesn't indicate any liver or pancreatic issues. But then, of course, there are questions. There are always questions.

Wednesday I'm to meet with a surgeon, the same one my mom used to get her GB out. She had a stone the size of a gallbladder, so her symptoms were easy to explain. I wonder what he'll say about me. And then there's the very, very real fear that I'll simply be making matters irreversibly worse by taking the thing out.

I meet with Mamel again on the 12th to have a Ph test done, to see whether my heartburn is really due to acid. I think it is. He's not so sure. After that there's a whole battery of tests waiting for me. I wish he would tell me what he's looking for, what he suspects.

So I'm having doubts about going through the GB surgery. Yes, I've had attacks. Too many of them. Most very minor, nothing more than discomfort. Some last between 1 and 4 hours. These are the medium grade ones. Then there are the ones that have sent me to the hospital. It was after one of those that my primary said "out with the GB. Now." After moving to a low-fat diet, I've yet to have another one of those. Only small and mid ones. The heartburn continues. So does the occasional bloating, but I can't help think that's the gastroparesis, not the gallbladder.

Then there's my mother's testimony. She had GB issues. Had heartburn, had bloating, even had vomiting of undigested foods (food that should have by all rights been digested). Almost all the same symptoms I have. (She doesn't remember her stomach twitching, and I don't vomit undigested food, just get a little nauseous once in a while.) GB came out and everything was fine again. Will it be the same with me?

So here I am, having questions. Appointments upcoming and maybe some will be answered, though I bet that for every question answered three more will take its place.

*urgh*

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by GhostOf1901, Apr 29, 2009
Met with surgeon today. He suspects that my symptoms are indeed all caused by my gallbladder. He also suspects that there have been stones there for a while, but they weren't seen in the first ultrasound. The surgery will happen after (a) I get him the HIDA/CCK result as well as the gastric emptying exam results to him (why my gastro didn't fax it, I don't know), and (b) after my Ph test.

Luckily, a low-fat diet has eliminated 95% of pain.

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by carrie235, Nov 02, 2009
Hi there:

I just ran across your story.  I have exactly the same concerns you have.  I have mild gastroparesis and also symptoms from gallstones like you describe.  Bloating, slow digestion, etc.  I was wondering if you did have your GB taken out and how it is going for you.  Please email me at ***@****.

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.

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by GhostOf1901, Nov 02, 2009
Hey Carrie,

Yes, got it out. One of the best things I did. Towards the end the constant pain was basically unmanageable. Turns out I had stones, LOTS of them. After the GB came out digestive symptoms improved. Gastroparesis has improved as well, although it sometimes kicks back in for a few days when I start putting foods that are too challenging in there. (Holidays are horrible for this.) Occasional antacids, domperidone, and enzyme supplements have helped out a lot, as has losing weight and exercising. Alpha lipoic acid has helped in the restoration of stomach function, as has switching to a low-gluten diet.

Note that very fatty meals (ex, nachos loaded with a ton of cheese + a side of chicken w/ skin) also cause a problem with pain in the GB region. Nowhere near as bad as it was with the GB, but still annoying.

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by mikesmom85, Mar 25, 2011
Dear gnorb, thank you for posting back to this forum! Just found out today after pipida scan that I have biliary dyskinisa and am to see a specialist.

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