Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has now replaced open cholecystectomy as the first-choice of treatment for gallstones and inflammation of the gallbladder.
Very small incisions are made through which the surgeon introduces a lens (laparoscopic) and specialized instruments to perform the extraction of the gall bladder. This is a safe procedure that provides several benefits in the post-operatory period, including less pain, faster recovery, lower infection index and less post-operative hernias at the long term and a faster return to normal activities for the patient with a shorter hospital stay and a shorter recovery time.
What is the gall bladder?
The gall bladder is a pear shaped organ located in the upper right part of the abdomen, below the liver. Its main function is to store bile produced by the liver. The bile is released by the bladder when ingesting food, thus helping in digestion.
What are 'bladder stones'?
Cholelithiasis, bile calcifications or gall bladder stones, mean the formation of calcifications (stones) in the gall bladder. These stones are formed by the precipitation of cholesterol crystals due to an alteration in the ratio between bile salts, calcium salts, bile pigments and cholesterol. This is a frequent complication.
What are the Symptoms?
Patients with bile calcifications can be totally asymptomatic (without discomfort) for a long time or present symptoms like pain or dyspepsia (indigestion) after eating, particularly greasy meals. It is more common among women, especially after 40 and overweight people. Once there are symptoms, these can be bile colic that are manifested with pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen (upper part of the stomach and liver), which are generally irradiated to the back. This pain can last between 2-4 hours and then it can disappear completely. It is produced by the contraction of the gall bladder that tries to expel the bile, when a calcification is located in the neck of the bladder hindering the output of bile. Other symptoms can include: chills, fever, jaundice (yellowish color in the skin and mucosa), which are generally presented as cholelithiasis complications.
How is it diagnosed?
Ultrasound is the most commonly used method for the diagnosis of gall bladder stones.
How do I treat it?
The treatment for cholelithiasis or gall bladder stones is exclusively surgical.