Each year in the United States, surgeons perform about 700,000 gallbladder removal procedures. Gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) is one of the most common minimally invasive surgical procedures, but what’s the purpose? And when should you consider it?

In Peoria, Illinois, Rachel Alt, MD, Brian Prebil, DO, and our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery are here to answer your questions. We specialize in gallbladder surgery, and we work with adults of all ages to help them decide if gallbladder surgery is right for them.

Your gallbladder is a non-essential organ located in your abdomen. Many people live their whole lives without any gallbladder trouble, but some people get gallstones — and the best treatment may be gallbladder removal.

All about gallstones

Everyone is born with a gallbladder. It’s about the size and shape of a pear, and it’s found just below your liver on the right side of your abdomen.

Your gallbladder stores bile, which is a digestive fluid that helps your body break down fats. When your gallbladder is working as it should, it releases bile into your small intestine during the digestive process.

A healthy gallbladder isn’t noticeable. But sometimes, the fluids inside your gallbladder harden into gallstones. Gallstones range in material makeup and size, and the symptoms of gallstones can bring your attention to your gallbladder.

Not everyone with gallstones has noticeable symptoms. However, many people experience symptoms that can include:

  • Abrupt, intense abdominal pain
  • Back pain between shoulder blades
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in the right shoulder

Anyone can get gallstones, but certain factors may make you more likely to experience this painful condition. Gallstones most commonly affect people who are:

  • Female
  • Over age 40
  • Struggling with weight
  • Sedentary
  • Of Hispanic or Native American descent

Your diet also influences your risk of gallstones. Eating a diet high in fat, high in cholesterol, or low in fiber may cause gallstones.

When to consider gallbladder removal

People who don’t have gallstones — or who don’t have gallstone symptoms — may never need gallbladder surgery. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with gallstones, and you have symptoms, consider gallbladder surgery.

Gallbladder removal is one of the most effective ways to treat gallbladder complications like gallstones. In fact, eight in 10 people diagnosed with gallstones need to have their gallbladders removed.

If you’ve noticed symptoms like abdominal pain, and you’re wondering if it could be gallstones, schedule an appointment with Dr. Alt and Dr. Prebil. We offer comprehensive consultations to determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend treatment.

Gallbladder removal surgery is generally safe, and our team uses minimally invasive techniques to perform the procedure. We perform gallbladder surgery with the da Vinci® Single-Site® method. It requires only one incision near your belly button to access and remove your gallbladder.

Following gallbladder removal, most people heal within about six weeks. Pain and other symptoms of gallstones should fade, and most people don’t notice any lasting digestive changes after gallbladder surgery.

Not sure if gallbladder removal surgery is right for you? Book an appointment at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery to learn more about your treatment options. Call our Peoria, Arizona office at 623-227-2581 or send us a message online.

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