Problems After Gallbladder Removal

By | January 21, 2014

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The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped sac that is located right under the liver. The gallbladder acts as a reservoir for bile, which is a digestive juice produced by the liver that aids in digestion of fats. The contraction of gallbladder causes the release of bile into the ducts that secrete bile into the small intestine. One of the common medical conditions that can affect the functioning of the gallbladder is the formation of gallstones. Gallstones are hard stone-like deposits that form as a result of increased concentration of cholesterol or bilirubin in bile. These can obstruct the flow of bile and cause an inflamed gallbladder. People suffering from gallstones may suffer from symptoms such as severe pain, bloating, belching, queasiness and intolerance to fatty foods. Removal of the gallbladder is suggested if the symptoms cannot be managed with the help of drugs. However, one must seek information related to problems after gallbladder removal before undergoing a gallbladder surgery. Given below is some information on gallbladder surgery and the repercussions of gallbladder removal on one’s health.

How is Gallbladder Surgery Performed?

Drug therapy coupled with lifestyle-related changes can help in alleviating the symptoms of gallbladder attacks caused by gallstones, to some extent. Surgery is recommended only if drug therapy or alternatives such as shock wave therapy or oral dissolution therapy don’t seem to be helping. Cholecystectomy or gallbladder surgery is categorized into open gallbladder surgery and laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. If case of a patient undergoing an open surgery, a large incision is made into the abdomen so as to remove the gallbladder. Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, on the other hand, is a minimally invasive procedure, wherein abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide and tiny incisions are made into the abdomen. A laparoscope with a miniature video camera is then inserted through the small incision. The image of the gallbladder can be seen on the video monitor, and these images guide the doctors as they pull out this organ through small incisions. As is the case with most surgeries, there is a risk of an infection or internal bleeding. Complications could also result from injury to the surrounding organs. Problems that may arise after the surgical removal of the gallbladder could result from injury to the blood vessels, bile duct or digestive organs or leakage of bile into the abdomen.

Problems That May Arise After Gallbladder Removal

People who have undergone a gallbladder surgery are diagnosed with post cholecystectomy syndrome, when they experience symptoms such as nausea, gas, bloating, heartburn, constipation, abdominal pain or diarrhea. Well, most of these symptoms are experienced during a gallbladder attack. Since the aim of the surgery is to help in alleviating these symptoms, patients often feel distressed when they experience such symptoms even after the gallbladder has been removed. Wondering why do patients experience such symptoms after having the gallbladder removed? The gallbladder acts as a reservoir for bile, so, once it has been removed, one may face problems that are associated with the regulation of bile. The liver may produce lesser amounts of bile, which in turn, may affect the digestive process adversely.

If bile produced by the liver is highly concentrated with cholesterol, hardened deposits could even form in the liver or the bile duct. The patient may develop an intolerance to fatty foods, and having small amounts of such foods could even cause indigestion and a host of other related symptoms. Many patients suffer from frequent bouts of diarrhea after the removal of gallbladder. Some patients may also suffer from ‘dumping syndrome’, a condition wherein the food reaches the intestine at a very fast rate. This is the reason why one needs to follow certain dietary guidelines after surgery. Processed foods and foods with high content of fat or cholesterol must be avoided.

At times, another underlying condition may be responsible for causing such symptoms. It’s possible that an infected or inflamed gallbladder may not be the only source of these symptoms. For instance, if the stone-like deposits are lodged in bile ducts, then symptoms will persist even after gallbladder removal. At times, problems that one may experience after the removal of gallbladder may be associated with a dysfunctional sphincter of Oddi. The sphincter of Oddi is a muscular valve that regulates the flow of bile and pancreatic juice from the ducts in liver and pancreas into the duodenum. If the sphincter of Oddi doesn’t relax and contract at the right time, these digestive juices may back up and cause abdominal pain and other discomforting symptoms.

If one experiences distressing symptoms even after gallbladder removal, one must consult the doctor immediately. Doctors may follow the symptomatic approach and prescribe drugs for alleviating the symptoms. Following the dietary guidelines will certainly help in improving the quality of life after a gallbladder surgery.

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