Your liver produces the digestive juice called bile that aids in the digestion of food. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and released when required. Due to a few conditions, this bile in your gallbladder can form into fragments of crystals called gallstones. So, in such cases, gallbladder removal surgery or cholecystectomy is performed to remove the gallbladder.
Types of gallbladder removal surgeries:
Two types of gallbladder removal surgeries are used – open surgery and laparoscopic surgery.
In open surgery, a single large incision will be made in your abdomen to remove the gallbladder. But in laparoscopic surgery, only a few small incisions are made instead of a single large incision.
10 complications of gallbladder removal surgery:
Gallbladder removal surgery is considered a safe procedure, but like all medical surgeries, there are few complications of gallbladder removal and those are:
- Infection: After the gallbladder removal, you may develop an internal infection or wound. Signs of infection include pain, redness, swelling, and leakage of pus from the wound. Your doctor may prescribe a few antibiotics to reduce the infection. The PICC line catheters are often used to deliver the antibiotics safely.
- Bleeding: If the surgeon is not well-trained or experienced in performing gallbladder removal surgery, he/she can damage your internal organs. This can lead to internal bleeding from the damaged organ. If this occurs, a further operation may be required to stop the bleeding.
- Bile duct injury: During the removal of the gallbladder, the bile duct can be damaged. If this happens, your surgeon can repair it straight away. But in a few cases, one more surgery is required to repair the damaged bile duct after the gallbladder removal surgery.
- Deep vein thrombosis: If you are suffering from any of the blood disorders, it is recommended to avoid gallbladder removal. Because you can develop blood clots during or after the surgery. You can develop deep vein thrombosis and that usually occurs in leg veins. The blood clot can travel all over the body and can block the blood flow to the lungs which results in pulmonary embolism. To prevent this, you may be given compression stockings to wear after the operation.
- Bile leakage: After removing the gallbladder, few clips are used to seal your tube that connects the gallbladder to the bile duct. This helps in avoiding leakage of bile. But, in a few cases, bile can leak out into your stomach and can cause fever, stomach pain, and swollen tummy.
- Injury to intestine: While removing the gallbladder with medical equipment and instruments, a surgeon can damage your intestines. But, this is a very rare situation to occur and can be repaired at the time of surgery itself.
- Damage to the surrounding structures: There may be a chance to cause damage to your surrounding structures like blood vessels and bowel during the gallbladder removal surgery. In a few cases, injuries are noticed after completion of the surgery and may require further surgery to treat it.
- Allergic reactions to anesthesia: You may develop allergic reactions to anesthesia such as low blood pressure, hives, breathing difficulties, swelling around the mouth and throat, and even death. So, it is advised to undergo an allergy test before the surgery.
- Post-cholecystectomy syndrome: You may experience few symptoms of gallstones even after removal of the gallbladder. This is known as post-cholecystectomy syndrome [PCS] and includes tummy pain, diarrhea, indigestion, jaundice, and high fever. This can happen due to leakage of bile into the stomach or due to the presence of tiny gallstones in the bile ducts.
- Difficulty in fat digestion: Generally, your body may take time to digest the fat as the bile is directly released into the intestine. This difficulty can be caused due to the medications that are taken during the surgery. If indigestion of fat is noticed longer than the usual, seek immediate medical attention.
If the complications persist for a longer period, then you must contact the doctor or surgeon immediately. In a few cases, surgical intervention may be needed to eliminate or to reduce the complication like bile leakage, post-cholecystectomy syndrome, and internal bleeding. Being fit and healthy before the surgery is recommended to avoid or to reduce the occurrence of complications.
Every surgery has its benefits and complications. So, gallbladder removal surgery also has complications that can be resolved by either lifestyle modifications or by undergoing further surgery.
However, before undergoing a gallbladder removal surgery, have a discussion with your doctor about the risks, complications, side-effects, and benefits of the surgery.