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Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder surgery is an effective way to manage gallstones that cause symptoms that interfere with your quality of life.

Gallstones are stone-like pieces of material that develop in the gallbladder. They are typically made of cholesterol or a substance called bilirubin that is produced by your liver and stored in your gallbladder.

Gallstones can block your bile ducts, resulting in sharp, shooting pain in your abdomen. Severe pain can be a sign of something dangerous and requires prompt medical attention. General surgeons with MultiCare can help by performing gallbladder surgery.

Symptoms of Gallstones

When gallstones obstruct your bile ducts, bile begins to build up in the gallbladder causing what is known as a gallbladder attack. When you experience a gallbladder attack, you may notice a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Chills and fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen that can last for several hours
  • Pale stools
  • Urine that is the color of tea
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, a condition known as jaundice

Do not ignore these symptoms if they occur. Left untreated, gallstones can cause complications that can be fatal. Gallstone symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions that require timely medical treatment, such as appendicitis, pancreatitis and ulcers.

Risk Factors for Gallstones

Being overweight can increase your risk for developing gallstones and having a gallbladder attack. However, losing weight too quickly can also increase your risk.

If you are overweight, talk to a doctor and/or dietitian to find ways to lose weight gradually. They can recommend simple changes to your diet and an exercise program that will help you lose weight a few pounds at a time.

Diagnosing Gallstones

If your doctor suspects you have gallstones, he or she will ask you about your health history and pain and perform a physical exam. Your doctor may also recommend additional tests, such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Different types of imaging exams that allow doctors to see your gallbladder, bile ducts and liver
  • Liver function tests
  • Tests to determine if your blood clots normally

Treatment

If you do not have any symptoms, you may not need surgery for gallstones.  Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, including exercising for two or three hours every week, eating more fresh produce and avoiding foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars. These will help you lose weight.

If you do experience symptoms, you may need surgery to remove your gallbladder.

General surgeons at MultiCare are experts in minimally invasive gallbladder removal. During this procedure, your surgeon will use a tiny camera and instruments to remove your gallbladder with the utmost precision. As a result, you will experience less bleeding, faster recovery and less scarring.

Follow-up Care

After your minimally invasive gallbladder surgery, you should be able to return to regular daily activities about a week later. Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage pain and advise you to avoid strenuous exercise or lifting heavy objects for four to six weeks after your procedure. 

Find a General Surgeon Near You

Learn more about our general surgeons specializing in gallbladder surgery and how they can help you.