You’ve heard of the gallbladder before, right? But do you know what role it plays in your daily functioning? If the answer is yes, it might be because you’ve had trouble with yours.
This tiny pouch beneath your liver primarily stores bile, the thick enzyme your liver makes so your body can break down and absorb fats. When you eat, your gallbladder releases this bile to help with digestion.
Unfortunately, this job also makes the gallbladder vulnerable to problems like infection, blockages, and gallstones, which can cause uncomfortable symptoms.
At South Shore Surgical in Valley Stream, New York, Dr. Ira Klonsky has been serving the Greater Queens and Long Island communities since 1983. As a highly qualified general surgeon and physician, Dr. Klonsky often recommends gallbladder surgery in these situations.
Painful gallbladder symptoms
When you have a gallbladder problem, it typically causes a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, especially pain.
Common signs of a gallbladder problem include:
- Sweating, fever, or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Digestive issues, like bloating, acid reflux, or chronic diarrhea
- Abdominal, shoulder, or back pain, especially after eating
- Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin
Gallbladder symptoms can range from mild to severe and occur periodically or often.
Gallbladder conditions requiring surgery
One of the most common reasons for gallbladder surgery involves gallstones. These hard deposits form inside the gallbladder and can be as small as a speck of sand or as big as a golf ball.
Problems arise because these stones can get stuck or cause inflammation and infection in the gallbladder or bile ducts — the small channels connecting your liver and gallbladder to your small intestine.
Approximately 25 million Americans will get gallstones at some point, but only 2-3% need treatment. In these cases, it’s typically due to intense pain, fever, or jaundice, which indicates bile duct blockage.
Other gallbladder conditions that could require surgery include:
- Biliary dyskinesia: A defect preventing the gallbladder from emptying bile properly
- Choledocholithiasis: Gallstones blocking the common bile duct and interfering with drainage
- Cholecystitis: Persistent gallbladder problems putting you at risk of gallbladder rupture
- Pancreatitis: Inflammation in your pancreas is usually due to gallstones
Gallbladder cancer is uncommon, but you can develop small growths (polyps) in this organ. Approximately 95% of gallbladder polyps are noncancerous, but Dr. Klonsky may recommend surgery based on their size, especially if you have gallstones.
What to expect from gallstone surgery
In most cases, Dr. Klonsky uses minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques to remove your gallbladder, also known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
During this procedure, Dr. Klonsky makes smaller incisions near your bellybutton and inserts a laparoscope. This special surgical tool has a camera so Dr. Klonsky can see your internal organs without the large incisions required for traditional (“open”) techniques.
After inserting the laparoscope, Dr. Klonsky guides thin tools into the incision sites to carefully detach and remove your gallbladder. He also has a special scope and X-ray technology to check and remove stones in your bile duct channels, but you could need an open surgery or second procedure.
Minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques pose fewer risks, less pain during your recovery, and faster healing times. In many cases, you can also go home the same day as your procedure and be back to normal activity within a week.
If you have gallbladder issues, learn about your treatment options by calling our Valley Stream, New York, office at 516-200-1318 or requesting an appointment online today. You can also send a message to Dr. Klonsky and the team here on our website.