Know about Complications After Gallbladder Removal Surgery

Gallbladder surgery, also called cholecystectomy, is the procedure to remove the gallbladder. It is often necessary due to problems with gallstones or abnormal function of the abdomen. While serious complications are rare, it is important to know about complications after gallbladder removal surgery.

What leads to gallbladder removal?

The gallbladder is a small pouch-like organ just below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen. It stores bile, the digestive fluid that the liver makes to digest fat. The most frequent forms of gallbladder problems are due to excess cholesterol in the bile, that leads to :

  • Gallstones
  • Acute or chronic inflammation due to gallstones
  • Bile duct stones

If the problem becomes severe and discomforting, doctors may suggest either open or laparoscopic surgery.

  • Open surgery: In this procedure, one long cut(incision) about 4 to 6 inches is made in the upper right-hand side of the belly. The surgeon finds the gallbladder and takes it out through the incision.
  • Laparoscopic surgery: This process needs 2 to 3 small incisions. It uses a long thin tube called a laparoscope. It has a tiny camera on top of it and a surgical tool. The surgeon does this surgery while looking at the TV monitor. Finally, the gallbladder is removed through one of the incisions.

Risk factors after gallbladder removal surgery

As with any type of surgery, the prime risk factor is developing an infection after surgery; mostly open surgery. The complication of cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal may include:

  • Infection: There might be an internal infection or at the incision site. You might notice – pain at site, swelling, redness or pus leaking from the wound. The doctor might prescribe some medicines to treat the infection.
  • Difficulty digesting fat: The body takes some time to adjust to its new method of digestion. Sometimes even medication can be the cause of indigestion. This doesn’t last long but some patients face a problem of bile leaking into other organs or gallstones were left behind in the bile duct.
  • Diarrhea: Lack of bile in the intestine because of bile leakage can cause diarrhea.
  • Intestinal injury: In very rare cases, surgery might cause damage to nearby blood vessels or intestine. These problems can be fixed at the same time, but if they are noticed later, you might need another operation.
  • Heart problem: if you are already a heart patient, the stress of surgery might worsen it.

There is a risk of PCS which stands for the postcholecystectomy syndrome. This is the situation where gallstones remain in the bile duct. It may also occur if bile leaks into the stomach.

Recovery after laparoscopic surgery

After laparoscopic surgery, most people can leave the hospital the same day. Sometimes, they might have to spend one night in the hospital. The doctor advice rest and avoid strenuous activities for 2-3 weeks. It might take 3-4 days before a person is able to resume their usual activities. Whereas, recovery from open surgery takes longer. The patient spends 3-5 days in the hospital and takes 6-8 weeks to completely get back to the normal routine.

Who shouldn’t have this type of surgery?

Laparoscopic surgery is not the right choice for everyone. Open surgery may be better if you:

  • Had surgery around your gallbladder before.
  • Tend to bleed a lot.
  • Have any problem that would make it hard for your doctor to see your gallbladder.

Still, your doctor will decide which type of surgery is appropriate for you.

Diet after surgery

Most patients are concerned about what they can eat after gallbladder removal surgery. Usually, doctors give a diet chart for a month after surgery. After the initial recovery period, most patients can tolerate a variety of foods without difficulty. It is not uncommon for it to take a few days for your normal appetite to return following surgery.

There are some ways that you can avoid stomach aches and diarrhea after gallbladder surgery;

  • Steamed vegetables: Vegetables when steamed, they can reduce the amount of bile acid making its way to the large intestine. Therefore, the chances of diarrhea get reduced.
  • Soluble fiber: Soluble fiber is effective in binding bile acids which may help prevent stomach discomfort. Source of soluble fiber are apples, bananas, grapefruit, pears, plums and so on.
  • Lean protein: Gallbladder is not required to digest protein, so there are no digestive problems after eating protein-rich fruits.
  • Only healthy fats: Although, after surgery the ability to digest fat is limited, some fat is important to maintain a healthy diet. It is very important to be wise about your fat choices. The good fat includes avocados, olives, nuts such as walnuts and almonds, seeds such as flax seeds, chia seeds.
  • Small meals: Eat a small portion of the meal at a time. If you eat thrice, make it four meals throughout the day.

The gallbladder is an important organ, but not necessary to live. All the complications can be avoided if you choose the best doctor for gallbladder removal surgery. Some clinics are using the most advanced technologies where they have trained and specialist doctors. If you want to know about such multispeciality healthcare clinics, click here.

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