Treating Symptomatic Gallstones

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Baptist Health Richmond: Treating Symptomatic Gallstones

Surgeon Hameed Koury, MD, explains problems that cause gallstones, describing how gallbladder surgery can be performed laparoscopically to break up the stones and relieve symptoms.

Treating Symptomatic Gallstones Health Talks Transcript

Hameed Koury, MD, General Surgery
The gallbladder is an organ that sits on the side of the duct in the liver and it stores extra bile. In case you have a big meal, it allows you to have that extra bile, that extra push to digest your fatty food.

Gallbladder disease consists of having gallstones that cause problems, or having a malfunctioning or poorly functioning gallbladder. The symptoms of gallbladder disease are mainly pain in the right upper quadrant in your abdomen. You can have nausea, bloating, a lot of pressure, like a baseball under your ribcage, and that pain can stay in that area or it can move to your back, radiate to your shoulder or chest. Nothing really prevents it if you’re disposed to it in the family, but if you can avoid high-fat foods, high-cholesterol foods, then that will allow the bile to help digest your food without getting filled up with cholesterol that can lead to stones and disease in the gallbladder. Treatment is lithotripsy to try to blow the stones up in the gallbladder and let them pass out. The surgery is done laparoscopically almost every time. It’s rare that we have to do an open procedure unless the gallbladder is infected or gangrenous. The recovery time is usually within 48 hours, most of the pain resolves and normal activity resumes within a week. With the advent of doing them laparoscopically, people have not been as reluctant to have the surgery, so that’s been the most common way to treat symptomatic gallstones.