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Avatar universal

Gallbladder removal surgery

I am a new mother, had my son about 3 months ago.  Just before I became pregnant last year I was diagnosed with gallstones.  I had an "attack" while I was pregnant, and another one just recently.  I am scheduled to have my gallbladder removed at the end of this week.

I am terrified of hospitals and "procedures" due to my Obstetrician scaring me to death while I was pregnant.  I am a type II diabetic and have  gotten my sugar under very good control while pregnant.  I have gone down from about 250 lbs to 175. I still have periods where I feel very hungry and feel as if I'm going to pass out if I don't eat.  

Lately I have been very sick after I eat.  I have been watching fat  intake, but yet my stomach often has this "burning sensation" and I feel very nauseous, I often throw up repeatedly until I'm throwing up yellow bile.  It doesn't happen after every meal, but it does happen alot.  Also, if I press down on the center of my stomach--upper region, it feels very tender.

When I was at the hospital, they did blood tests, and none of my liver enzymes were elevated or anything, but they did say that based on the ultrasound my gallbladder should come out, and that more than likely these "attacks" were gallbladder based.

Since then I have been reading extensively about gallbladder surgery and its potential outcome, I have several questions:

I have heard of developing heart problems, possibly due to cholesterol?  after this procedure, and I have also heard of "sphincter of oddi dysfunction, and a possibility of cutting the "biliary duct" during this procedure.  How commonly do these things occur, and how easily are they treated/corrected?

I have been told that the gallbladder is only a repository for bile, and that afer its removal, the liver will just continuously "drip" bile into the digestive system.  Does the surgeon have to cut out the gallbladder, and then redirect the liver to the intestine?  (In other words, how does the digestive system function both with, and without the gallbladder?)

What are the risks assessed with not having the surgery, and are there any other resources that completely list the pros and cons to this procedure?

53 Responses
233190 tn?1278553401
I am not a surgeon, so I have limited insight into the surgical questions you ask.  

It is certainly possible that the symptoms can be related to the gallbladder.  Removing the gallbladder is not an unreasonable option.  Your symptoms can also be caused by other upper GI diseases - such as GERD, an ulcer, or inflammation of the upper digestive tract.  An upper endoscopy or upper GI series can be considered to evaluate these possibilities.  

Although possible, I am not aware of specific cardiac side effects from the procedure.  Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction is a relatively rare occurance - and can lead to continued symptoms post-op.

The risks of not having the surgery include continued pain and discomfort, as well as the possibility of infection and inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis).  

These options and questions should be discussed with your personal physician.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
Avatar universal
I'm a surgeon who's done around a thousand gallbladder operations. There's no asssociation between gallbladder removal and heart problems; people with heart problems can have trouble with any operation.

Gallbladder removal requires no reattachments of bile duct or liver. The gallbladder is a pouch connected to the bile duct, like a ballon connected to the side of a hose. Remove the ballon, the hose remains intact.

Most people have no side effects whatever after gallbladder removal; the gallbladder stores bile, but since we eat regularly, we don't need storage. I think the gallbladder was designed for the days when people starved for days between killing their next meal: when you starve, your gallbladder gets quite full.

Sphincter of oddi dysfunction is somewhat mysterious. It's hard to diagnose, but not hard to treat when it's sure that's what the problem is.

Not all people with gallstones have symptoms, and some people with gallstones have stomach problems that turn out not to be related to the stones. People with stones and no symptoms are mostly ok leaving the gallbladder alone, but many will get symptoms later, and when they do they can have surgery. People who are having symptoms and who don't have surgery have a higher chance of getting more severe problems than people who have stones with no symptoms. In other words, various things can happen with gallstones: 1) nothing; 2) intermittant pain, nausea, etc, that goes away in a few minutes or hours; 3) infection of the gallbladder; 4) passing a stone from the gallbladder to the bile duct which can either a) cause lots of pain but pass without problems; b) get stuck causing jaundice, or severe infection in the bile and then the bloodstream; and/or c) cause pancreatitis. There's no way to predict who will get what -- except to say that it's somewhat uncommon to go from zero symptoms to severe complications without a period of having some symptoms first. It's a crystal ball thing, but most doctors agree that people with symptoms are better off having surgery. It's also true that if diabetics get gallbladder infections, they tend to be more severe than in non-diabetics, which is a reason some doctors recommend gallbladder surgery in diabetics even if they don't have symptoms.
Avatar universal
I have had my gallbladder out 1 mnth ago. Of course I was nervous going into the operation I think that that is only natural. I had the Key hole surgory and it was fine. Just like a walk in the park. up and walking around that night.

the surgon who answered your question is right - sometimes the symptoms you are having point towards the gallbladder but when you get it out you still have the same symptoms (this happened to me) guess I was unlucky to have to similar problems but the awfull pain from a gallstone attack I have not had since and I am glad I went and got it done.

as to the complications after the surgry. Cant say I have any. Maybe not digesting fats as well as I did. My wife had hers out more then 5 years ago and she does not have any problems just the odd trip to the tolet every now and then.

as to the increased risk for heart desease I think this is more so to the amount of colestorol in your systom. It would be the same if you had it in or out. raise your HDL by not smoking - exercise and staying away from processed foods as much as you can. Also eat your fiber like bran in the morning as this will soak up the colestrol the liver has processed so it wont go back into the system.

Best of luck (the op is not a problem you will do well)

God Bless

Avatar universal
Sorry to distract everyone from the original posting, but are there any travel restrictions post gall bladder surgery? I live in the US and my mom in India is planning to have her surgery done in the next 1-2 weeks..her ticket to US is booked for May 25th - wondering if its ok for her to travel after say 2 weeks rest. Or is it better that she comes here first and goes back (return trip July 5th), and then gets the surgery done?
Avatar universal
I am a 34 year old female, 5'4" 150LBS so a little over weight.
I started seeking medical attention for what I thought was heart related issues, my family has a long history of heart problems but those who have had problems have all smoked, I do not smoke or drink and for the most part eat very healthy and up until about 2 years ago exercised on a regular basis. Until a few years ago when I started having trouble while exercising, I started having trouble catching my breath, yawning constantly while working out and actually passed out twice while doing some low impact cardio exercises (stair stepper the first time and ski machine the second time) I was placed on Lisinopril for a slightly elevated blood pressure. Since then, I have not been exercising like I used to, I would try but just feel too exhausted and frankly, a little afraid after passing out twice. So, over the past few years, with the lack of exercise I have put on about 20 LBS, my normal weight is about 125/ 130LBS.  About maybe a year ago I started having bouts of crushing pains that left me struggling to breath and with my pulse racing. The pain seems to be worse when I am sitting or lying down, I would feel extremely bloated, as if my organs were being crushed in my chest and abdomen. This feeling would come on suddenly and after what seemed like forever but was probably only about 15 minutes or so it would go away just as suddenly. Some times this feeling is worse than others, on occasion feeling like I have heard heart attacks described sometimes just feeling bloated and causing pain that seems to be in the bottom of my ribcage.

I have recently been through a ton of testing, including
Blood/urine tests (all normal)
EKG(all well there),
x-rays (all good),
ultrasound of the gallbladder and pancreas(also fine),
ct scan with and without contrast( showed a thickening of the stomach lining,
had an EGD (Have a hiatal hernia everything else including biopsies were normal there Doc saw no thickening) so I have been taking Nexium which relieved some of the acid reflux which wasn
Avatar universal
To the last question, I have been having problems for over 2 years now.  Test after test, them kept saying it was  IBS, and maybe I had a bad gallbladder, all the test came up normal.  I couldnt eat, I live on protein shakes and cream of wheat, I would bloat so much that I could hardly breath.  Finally I went to see a surgeon, because I couldnt eat anything with out having several bloating, fullness I felt like I could feel food in my throat, nausea, and back pain.  Again the test came back normal.  2.5 weeks ago they took my gallbladder out inflammed and diseased.  No stones though.. I feel 110% better, still re-cooping.  Hope this helps somewhat.
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