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What are gallbladder stones?
Gallbladder stones are formed when chemicals in the bile of the gallbladder form crystals that are sandy or gravel-like particles. Gallbladder stones cause pain in the upper abdomen which may shift to the right shoulder blade. Nausea and vomiting are also experienced by patients suffering from gallbladder stones.
What are the available options for treating gallbladder stones?
Duration of procedure/surgery:
Surgery is a good option for removing stones from the gallbladder, if the patient is fit for surgery. There are two types of surgery:
- Laparoscopic Surgery
This surgery is performed using a laparoscope, which is an endoscopic device with a video camera attached to it. In this surgery, a laparoscope along with several other surgical instruments is inserted through several small incisions in the abdomen. The cystic artery is divided, after which the gallbladder is dissected from the liver. Then the gallbladder is removed.
- Open Surgery
An open surgery is performed if the gallbladder is infected, inflamed or if the gallstones are very large. The surgery is performed through an incision in the abdomen, usually in the upper midline or below the rib on the right side of the abdomen.
- Shock Wave Therapy
This treatment is known as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. It uses lithotripters that are devices that produce the waves. The shock waves break up the gallbladder stones. Repeated shock wave treatments are required to remove the gallbladder stones completely.
- Contact Dissolution
Contact dissolution is a method that is used to dissolve gallstones. In this treatment, a catheter is inserted through the abdomen. Through the catheter, chemical solvents are injected directly into the gallbladder.
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery: 2 hours or less.
Contact dissolution of gallstone removal: 5 to 12 hours.
1 or 2 days for a Laparoscopic Surgery.
2 to 4 or more days for an open surgery.
Open or Laparoscopic surgery will require general anesthesia.
Some symptoms experienced after surgery include:
- 24 to 72 hours of shoulder and abdominal pain caused due to the gas that inflates the abdomen during surgery
- Muscle pains due to anesthesia
- Nausea and appetite loss
- Minor inflammation of surgical wounds
For a laparoscopic surgery:
- The patient’s full recovery can be expected in 2 to 3 weeks after being discharged from the hospital.
- 4 hours after the operation, the patient can drink liquids, and later resume eating normal food.
- Normal activities can be resumed in 7 to 10 days.
Risks associated with gallbladder stones removal are low.
The possible complications during surgery include:
- Injury to the other organs
- Internal bleeding
- Leakage of bile into the abdominal cavity
- Injury to the hepatic artery (rare)
- Gallstone pushed to the common bile duct
- Risks of general anesthesia
For shock wave therapy, the risks are:
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Acute cholecystitis
Side effects of the contact dissolution treatment are:
- Foul-smelling breath
- Difficulty in breathing
- Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully after getting discharged from the hospital.
- Take caution while doing activities
- Take care of the surgical wounds
- Do not remove the dressing on the incision for 2 days. During that time, keep the dressing area dry and do not take a shower.
- Do not apply new bandage to the wounds unless advised by the doctor.
Learn more about Gallbladder Stones Removal