The human body has about 78 organs. Five of them — your brain, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys — are essential for survival. The remaining organs all work together to help keep you alive, but they aren’t as critical.
One of these is your gallbladder: a small, pear-shaped organ that sits next to your liver. The gallbladder is part of your digestive system, but up to 25 million Americans have gallbladder disease, with symptoms ranging from abdominal pain and bloating to diarrhea and other stool abnormalities.
Since your gallbladder is non-essential, your body can continue functioning without it, and one of the most effective treatments may be gallbladder surgery. As gallbladder specialists in Peoria, Arizona, our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery is here to answer your questions.
Your digestive process and the purpose of your gallbladder
The gallbladder exists to support liver function and digestion. To understand the role of your gallbladder in your body, you must start by understanding your digestive process.
Your liver creates a greenish-yellow digestive fluid called bile. Bile contains cholesterol, salts, and bilirubin. Its job is to break down fats in your digestive system and transport waste away.
After you eat, bile goes directly from your liver to your small intestine to aid digestion. But if your body isn’t digesting anything, the bile goes from your liver to your gallbladder, where it’s stored until you eat again.
Most of the time, your gallbladder fills with bile and releases it without any problems. But sometimes, gallstones form and begin causing problems like blockages and inflammation, leading to a condition called chronic gallbladder disease.
Common signs of gallbladder problems
Gallstones and gallbladder disease can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms. Most gallbladder problems start with intermittent pain in your upper right abdomen, near your rib cage.
If inflammation persists, you might develop more consistent upper abdominal pain, along with bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, or diarrhea. Some people experience nausea and vomiting.
If these symptoms sound familiar, you might have gallbladder disease. Our team offers gallbladder exams to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms and find a treatment that helps you feel better.
Mild gallstones may resolve with lifestyle changes and dietary modifications. For chronic gallstones and gallbladder disease, we may recommend minimally invasive gallbladder surgery.
We perform laparoscopic gallbladder surgery using small incisions and specialized instruments to minimize trauma to surrounding healthy tissues. We may remove gallstones, blockages, or your entire gallbladder during surgery, depending on your symptoms.
Since your gallbladder is non-essential, your body can continue functioning without it. Most people don’t experience any long-term side-effects of gallbladder removal, but your digestive process might change slightly.
Bothered by abdominal pain and digestive issues? Your gallbladder might be to blame. Find out more about gallbladder disease and treatment options at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery. Send us a message online or call our office at 623-227-2581.