What is a gallbladder and why do we sometimes need to have it removed?

The gallbladder acts as a storage reservoir for bile, which is manufactured in the liver and assists with digestion of fats. Within the gallbladder sac some people form stones, which are the most common source of gallbladder related symptoms. After the gallbladder is removed the bile from the liver still flows to the intestines to help with fat digestion.

What are the symptoms of gallbladder disease?

Gallbladder pain typically is intermittent, and can last from a few minutes to hours. The pain follows meals (especially high fat greasy meals)and is located in the right upper or middle abdomen. Some other symptoms can include bloating, nausea, and vomiting. More sever symptoms are fever, persistent pain, and yellow jaundice.

How do we determine a patient has gallbladder disease?

A physical exam along with simple tests such as an ultrasound and bloodwork is all that is usually needed.

How is the gallbladder removed?

Most of the time the gallbladder can be removed using a minimally invasive approach. This is called a laparoscopic cholecsytectomy. This surgery is typically done through four small incisions using a fiber optic camera. This type of procedure commonly results in reduced post-operative pain, quicker recovery and often discharge home on the same day.