Gall Stones & Gall Bladder Surgery

Gall Stones & Gall Bladder Surgery

What are gall stones?

Gallstones are hard deposits usually found in you gall bladder due to supersaturation of bile pigments, cholesterol and calcium salts.

Gall stones diagram

Why do I get pain from my gall stones?

Gall stones by themselves do not cause pain. However when gall stones block the entrance to the gall bladder this results in pain. If this blockage resolves spontaneously the pain settles down. This is called biliary colic and can trouble patients intermittently often for months.

What is Cholecystitis?

This is when the blockage of the gall bladder entrance at the cystic duct does not resolve spontaneously. This then mediates an inflammatory response and patients often get unbearable pain and may even need to be seen by a specialist urgently. This can result in bacterial infection and if left untreated can eventually see the gall bladder burst or rupture.

What other complications can result from gall stones?

  • Cholangitis (infection of the bile duct)
  • Painful obstructive jaundice (gall stone lodged in the bile duct)
  • We specialise in removing these stones at the time of your gall bladder operation
  • Mirrizi Syndrome
  • This is when a gall stone impacted in the neck of the gall bladder starts eroding thru the gall bladder wall into the bile duct forming a fistula
  • Gall stone pancreatitis
  • The pancreas gets aggravated due to the passage of a gallstone within the common bile duct.
  • These patients will require hospital admission to settle down the pancreatitis. We specialise in removing the gall bladder usually on the same admission for these patients that have presented with pancreatitis
  • Small bowel Obstruction / Gall stone ileus
  • This happens when a gallstone passes through the bile duct and into the small bowel resulting in a blockage of the small bowel.

I have a stone in my bile duct do I need to have a ercp?

An ercp is an endoscopic method to retrieve a gallstone that has travelled past the gall bladder into the bile duct. Patients can either have an ercp performed and then go on to have their gall bladder surgery done later or they can have the removal of their stone attempted at the same time by laparoscopic surgery- We specialise in this.

We specialise in removing stones from the bile duct-In certain conditions this is not possible due to the patients individual anatomy or gall stone size. These patients may need an ercp at a later stage . We often put stents down at the time of your gall bladder surgery if we are unable to remove the gallstone in your bile duct. This facilitates an easier cannulation of the bile duct by an endoscopist.

What happens once my gall bladder is removed?

Most people live a fairly normal life without their gall bladder. A very small percentage of people can have loose bowel movements after their gall bladder surgery. This usually settles within 6-12 months.

We specialise in a wide variety of gall b ladder conditions. The spectrum can vary from your standard gall bladder to a ruptured or perforated gall bladder. Your specialist has spent the last 4 years specifically dealing with acute gall bladder conditions. He is well versed in dealing with this using laparoscopic or “key hole” surgery

How long is the gall bladder surgery?

Most times a gall bladder surgery is less than an hour. If you have a difficult gall bladder this can sometimes take longer.

Will I have open or laparoscopic surgery for my gall bladder condition?

We specialise in performing laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. However in certain conditions an open operation is needed. You need to see your specialist to discuss your individual risk.