Gallbladder stone operation is a common procedure recommended for the treatment of gallstones.
Can gallstones be removed without removing the gallbladder?
Dr Bajaj says, “There are few medications but they may not work for everyone.”
“These medications may take years to dissolve gallstones but these stones might reappear when the medication is stopped. It doesn’t eliminate the risk of the stone slipping down and getting stuck in the cystic duct or biliary system of the gallbladder. Medicinal treatment does not provide a permanent solution.”
When do you need an operation to remove gallstones?
You will be recommended surgery if you experience symptoms of gallbladder stones such as:
- severe abdominal pain (presumably pain near the gallbladder)
“The presentation of these symptoms indicate that surgery is necessary to avoid possible complications,” says Dr Amarchand S. Bajaj, Laparoscopic Surgeon at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital, who has done hundreds of gallbladder stone operations.
Dr Bajaj explains, “Since gallstones can’t be removed themselves, the gallbladder has to be surgically taken out for permanent pain relief. This also helps eliminate the development of possible complications in the future.”
Gallbladder stone operation can be done either through open surgery or laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
Take Ritesh Jha, 32, for example. He experienced a sudden and rapid pain in the upper right portion of his abdomen. The doctors in the Emergency Room advised an abdominal ultrasound to check for the presence of gallstones. The results confirmed their suspicions.
Dr. Bajaj continues, “Sometimes there may not be any pain or symptoms but you may find out about gallstones in a preventive health care examination.”
Just like Suraj Kapoor, 25, who found out about gallstones through an abdominal ultrasound as part of a preventive health check-up. Ritesh and Suraj were referred to Dr Bajaj for their treatment.
Apprehensive about getting gallbladder stone operation, both Ritesh and Suraj wondered what would happen in case they did not get the surgery done.
What happens if gallbladder stones are not removed?
“Surgery becomes necessary when you start experiencing discomfort, pain or indigestion. These could be a sign of acute cholecystitis where the stone has caused an obstruction in one of the gallbladder ducts.”
“More serious complications such as obstructive jaundice or pancreatitis may also occur if the gallstone manages to slip further down. This also necessitates the need for surgery.”
Keen to know more about the operation, Ritesh asked the doctor his concerns.
How serious is gallbladder surgery?
A gallbladder removal surgery for gallstones is safe in the hands of an experienced surgeon.
Dr Bajaj says, “A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is usually less painful and risky. It also results in quicker recovery time, minimal scars, short hospital stay and quick return to work.”
It may be more dangerous if the gallstone is left untreated.
Which size of gallbladder stone is dangerous?
“The size of gallstones are not as important because treatment is needed if you exhibit symptoms.”
“Smaller gallbladder stones have a higher chance of slipping into the biliary duct, leading to possible complications such as pancreatitis or choledocholithiasis. Large gallstones, on the other hand, can result in obstruction at the neck of the gallbladder.”
What are the benefits of gallbladder stone operation?
Dr Bajaj explains, “Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a minimally-invasive surgery where upto four incisions as small as a keyhole (0.5-1 cm) are made in the abdomen.”
The benefits of laparoscopic surgery are:
- It is safer compared to an open surgery
- It results in a shorter hospital stay,
- It involves a faster recovery time and smaller scars.”
How long does it take to recover from gallbladder stone surgery?
Dr Bajaj answers, “In case of laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder, you can leave the hospital within 24-36 hours.”
“Most people are able to resume their routine within three days.”
What should you expect after gallbladder surgery?
“In most cases, there are no side effects of gallbladder removal. The removal doesn’t impair your digestive system or affect your quality of life.”
After the surgery, there are no restrictions on your diet and you can resume eating normal meals a few hours after the operation.
Tips for Indian diet after gallbladder removal
- For the initial few days after gallbladder surgery, a low-fat diet is advisable.
- Try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet in your day-to-day life
- Steer clear from food items that could cause bloating, diarrhea, etc.”
Gallbladder Removal Surgery Cost
Gallbladder removal surgery can cost from around Rs. 21,800 in small nursing homes of Delhi to Rs. 2,10,000 in large corporate hospitals. At Sitaram Bhartia, we work towards providing high-quality healthcare services at affordable rates. We offer a free initial consultation with our surgeons and then work to come up with a cost that is feasible for the patient.
After careful consideration and answers to all their questions, Ritesh and Suraj both decided to choose laparoscopic surgery of gallbladder stones.
Dr Bajaj concludes, “When considering a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, don’t hesitate to ask any questions from your surgeon. Most patients can resume their daily work lives within 72 hours so you should go ahead with the surgery when there are no doubts in your mind.”
This blog post was written with editorial inputs from our General Surgeon, Dr. Amarchand S. Bajaj, who has over 15 years of experience in various capacities across Corporate Hospitals in Delhi NCR.