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Gallbladder Disease Specialist

Barrington Surgeons, LTD

Surgeon located in Barrington, IL

Patients from in and around Barrington, Illinois, have access to expert surgical treatments for gallbladder disease with Dr. Wool and Dr. Hoeltgen at Barrington Surgeons.

Gallbladder Disease Q & A

What Is the Gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ which rests beneath the right side of a person’s liver. The purpose of the gallbladder is to collect and concentrate bile as it is produced by the liver. The bile is then directed through tubular channels, called bile ducts, to the small intestines. The gallbladder can often be the cause of pain in a person’s abdomen as a result of gallstones. Gallstones are small, hard “stones” consisting of bile salts and cholesterol that block the flow of bile out of the gallbladder. These stones cause the organ to swell, which leads to indigestion, sharp pain, vomiting, and occasionally fever. Jaundice is another common symptom if the stone is clogging the common bile duct. Typical signs of gallbladder issues include pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen that radiates to the back.

How Are Gallstones Treated?

While gallstones are treatable with a change in diet and the use of medications or other treatments designed to dissolve or break up the gallstones, these treatments do not prevent the development of more gallstones in the future. The most effective method to treat gallstones is gallbladder removal surgery. Dr. Wool and Dr. Hoeltgen perform laparoscopic treatments that usually enable the patient to return home on the same day. Removal of the gallbladder does not interfere with a person’s digestion.

What Is a Cholecystectomy?

Performed either in a traditional open surgery or laparoscopically, a cholecystectomy is a technical term for the removal of the gallbladder. When performed laparoscopically, the surgeon uses specially designed instruments and a camera on the end of a thin flexible tube which are inserted into the abdominal cavity through four small incisions. This minimally invasive procedure offers less discomfort, faster recovery, and only leaves small scars. The surgeon watches the whole procedure and the internal organs on the live video feed supplied by the camera at the end of the laparoscope. Once the gallbladder is successfully detached and removed, the instruments are removed and the incisions closed.

What Are the Complications of Gallstones?

Depending on the age of the patient, the risk of developing gallstones in the common bile duct ranges between 10-25 percent, which can lead to complications including: obstruction of the common bile duct, inflammation and infection in both the gallbladder and in the common bile duct, and pancreatitis. Some patients may also experience other more serious complications. For example, the gallbladder could become severely infected and fill with pus or an fistula (an abnormal connection) could form between the gallbladder and the small intestine. It is possible that a larger gallstone could block the small intestine or tear the gallbladder. And there is a risk that the gallstone could develop into gallbladder cancer.