5 Signs You Might Need Gallbladder Surgery

Sep 01, 2022
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Your gallbladder is a pear shaped organ that helps you digest fats. Gallbladder issues such as gallstones may sometimes require surgical intervention. Read on to find out what signs may indicate a need for gallbladder surgery.

Our digestive system allows our bodies to break down food and absorb nutrients that fuel our organs, tissues, and other cells in our bodies. Illnesses and diseases affecting any part of our digestion can create problems for the whole system. 

The gallbladder is one of the key organs participating in food absorption, but diseases or conditions affecting the gallbladder can affect your digestion. In severe cases, removal of the gallbladder may be necessary.

The experienced medical team at Lenox Hill Surgeons LLP in the Upper East Side area of Manhattan, can help you determine if you might need gallbladder surgery. In this blog, we examine the gallbladder’s function, what diseases can affect it, and what symptoms may require surgical intervention.

What your gallbladder does for your body

This four-inch, pear-shaped organ that sits just underneath your liver is responsible for storing and releasing bile. Bile is produced in your liver and helps you digest the fats in the food you eat. Your gallbladder carries bile to your small intestine through your biliary tract, a pipe-like system of bile ducts connecting your gallbladder to the small intestine.

Before you eat, this organ is filled with bile. As you start eating, signals are sent to your gallbladder to begin squeezing stored bile through the biliary tract to aid in digestion. Once you're done eating, the organ deflates, waiting for bile to build up again from your liver.

Gallbladder diseases

When your gallbladder is healthy, you may rarely think about it. However, certain gallbladder issues can require surgical intervention or even removal altogether. Here are some common illnesses that can affect your gallbladder:

  • Gallstones: one of the most commonly known gallbladder illnesses, gallstones are the accumulation of solid masses of cholesterol inside the gallbladder.
  • Bile duct stones: gallstones that lodge or form in the bile duct
  • Cholecystitis: also known as inflamed gallbladder, this is the result of bile being unable to leave the organ, sometimes due to gallstones
  • Gallbladder cancer: a very rare form of cancer that can spread to other parts of the body
  • Perforated gallbladder: a hole in the organ wall that forms because of gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder
  • Gallbladder polyps: a noncancerous growth that forms in the organ that may be harmless unless it grows large enough to affect proper function

Inflammation of the gallbladder commonly requires gallbladder removal, also known as a cholecystectomy. In some cases, stones need to be extracted prior to surgical removal of the gallbladder. 

Signs that surgery may be necessary

The severity of symptoms may vary, but here are some signs that medical help will be necessary to treat your gallbladder problems:

1. Abdominal pain

Recurring pain in the mid or upper right section of your abdomen can indicate a major gallbladder problem. It may also cause pain in your chest and back. The severity of the pain can be an indicator of how severe the condition is.

2. Fever and chills

Fevers and chills often stem from an infection, and these symptoms combined with abdominal pain and some of the other signs indicate possible gallbladder problems.

3. Jaundice

This yellowing of the skin is the result of problems with bile reaching your intestines to help with digestion. Gallstones or bile duct stones are a common cause of jaundice.

4. Bowel movement changes

Differences in the frequency or quality of your stool can result from gallbladder issues, including diarrhea, and light-colored or chalky stool. Urinary changes are also likely, leading to darker urine. 

5. Nausea and vomiting

Issues with any part of your digestive tract can cause nausea and vomiting, and this organ is no different. Long-term issues with your gallbladder can lead to frequent nausea.

While the prospect of gallbladder surgery or removal might seem daunting, your digestive system can function without it. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, make an appointment with Lenox Hill Surgeons LLP today to get the best treatment.