Gallbladder Disease and Gallstones

Some people think of their gallbladder as being “expendable”. Not that anybody wants any of their organs to be removed, but since many people live a seemingly normal life after getting their gallbladder removed, many people don’t think their gallbladder plays an important role in their overall health. After all, how important can your gallbladder be if you can do just fine after it’s surgically removed? The gallbladder actually plays a very important role in your body. It is an essential part of the digestive system.

Your gallbladder is most likely to give you trouble if something blocks the flow of bile through the bile ducts. That is usually a gallstone. Gallstones form when substances in bile harden. Rarely, you can also get cancer in your gallbladder. Many gallbladder problems get better with removal of the gallbladder. Fortunately, you can live without a gallbladder. Bile has other ways of reaching your small intestine.

In the United States, about a million new cases of gallstone disease are diagnosed each year, and some 800,000 operations are performed to treat gallstones, making it the most common gastrointestinal disorder requiring hospitalization.

Gallstone disease is the most common disorder affecting the body’s biliary system, the network of organs and ducts that create, transport, store, and release bile. Bile contains cholesterol, water, proteins, bilirubin (a breakdown product from blood cells), bile salts (the chemicals necessary to digest fat), and small amounts of copper or other materials. If the chemical balance of bile contains too much of any of these components, particularly of cholesterol, crystals form and can harden into stones.

In terms of size, gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. A person can form one large stone in his or her gallbladder, or hundreds! About 10 percent of the population has gallstones, but the vast majority experiences no symptoms and need no treatment. However, in 1 percent to 2 percent of these people, gallstones can cause problems by lodging in bile ducts, stopping the flow of bile or digestive enzymes, and leading to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, inflammation, and even life-threatening infection.

Gallstone attack has some classic symptoms: The most agonizing pain is experienced in the upper right part of the abdomen under the ribs. Usually it appears suddenly, sometimes an hour or two after eating a fatty meal. The pain may get worse quickly, and then last for several hours. Many times, the pain may radiate to the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. Inhaling deeply, or moving, often makes the pain worse. The primary therapy for gallstones that are causing pain, inflammation, or infection is removal of the gallbladder.

A number of factors put people at higher risk of gallstones:

  • Gender: Women between the ages of 20 and 60 are 3 times more likely to develop gallstones than are men in the same age group. By age 60, 20 percent of American women have gallstones.
  • Age: The incidence of gallstone disease increases with age.Tsuda 11-18
  • Genetics: Family history and ethnicity are critical risk factors in development of gallstones, though no gene responsible for gallstone formation has yet been discovered. African-Americans seem to have lower rates of gallstone disease than American Indians, whites, or Hispanics.
  • Obesity: Obesity is a significant risk factor, particularly for women. Obesity also slows down the emptying of the gallbladder.
  • Location of body fat: Belly fat, that spare tire around the middle, dramatically increases the chance of developing stones.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes often have high levels of triglycerides in their blood, and these fatty acids tend to increase the risk of gallstones.

Even if you’re not at risk for gallstones, it is wise to maintain a healthy body weight, by among other things, sticking to a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and suffering with gallstones or gallbladder disease, schedule a consultation at VIP Surg.

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Weight Loss after Gallbladder Surgery

If you have a tendency to develop painful gallstones, the remedy is usually removal of the gallbladder. This procedure is called a cholecystectomy. The gallbladder is the part of your digestive system that stores bile, which is produced in the liver. Bile helps with the digestion of fatty foods. Removing the gallbladder doesn’t stop the liver from making the bile necessary to digest fats. Instead of being stored in the gallbladder, the bile will continuously drip into your digestive system. Your digestive system will continue to function without a gallbladder. The surgery may affect your weight in the short term, but certain lifestyle changes may help you lose or maintain weight in the long term.3D illustration of male Gallbladder.

Fast facts on weight loss after gallbladder removal:

  • A person can live without their gallbladder.
  • When gallstones become a problem, surgery is usually required to remove the gallbladder.
  • It is not uncommon for people to lose a little weight after having a cholecystectomy.
  • There are several strategies, including exercise and diet that can be used to make this short-term weight loss a more permanent change.

There seems to be some connection between diet and gallstones. For example, obesity and rapid weight loss are risk factors for developing gallstones. There’s also an increased risk for gallstones if you have a diet high in refined carbohydrates and calories, but low in fiber.

After having your gallbladder removed, it’s quite possible that you’ll experience some weight loss. This may be because of:

  • Eliminating fatty foods: After surgery, you may have some trouble digesting fatty foods until your body adjusts. For that reason, your surgeon may instruct you to avoid high-fat and fried foods until your body is better able to handle them.
  • Eating a bland diet: During recovery, you may also find that spicy foods and foods that cause gas can lead to gastrointestinal upset. This can make you shy away from some of your favorite dishes.
  • Selecting smaller portions: For a few weeks after surgery, you may not be able to eat large amounts of food at one sitting. You’ll probably be advised to eat more frequent, but smaller meals.

During this time, you might be taking in fewer calories than you were before the surgery. If so, you’re likely to lose weight, at least temporarily. If you want to continue the trend, remember that short-term and quick weight-loss plans are not healthy and may make matters worse in the long run. Instead, strive to make weight loss part of an overall healthier way of living. That means making good dietary choices and engaging in regular exercise. It doesn’t mean starving or completely depriving yourself of the foods you love.

Living an active lifestyle is essential for weight loss after gallbladder removal. However, it is important to speak with your doctor about when it is appropriate to return to or begin an exercise routine after surgery. Someone with a significant amount of weight to lose should speak with their doctor for advice and support.

Despite having your gallbladder removed, it’s still possible to lose weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, schedule a consultation with VIP SURG to learn how you can do it safely.
 

Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease

Some people think of their gallbladder as being “expendable”. Not that anybody wants any of their organs to be removed, but since many people live a seemingly normal life after getting their gallbladder removed, many people don’t think their gallbladder plays an important role in their overall health. After all, how important can your gallbladder be if you can do just fine after it’s surgically removed? The gallbladder actually plays a very important role in your body. It is an essential part of the digestive system.

In the United States, about a million new cases of gallstone disease are diagnosed each year, and some 800,000 operations are performed to treat gallstones, making it the most common gastrointestinal disorder requiring hospitalization. Gallstones or gallbladder disease can quickly turn a great meal into a period of misery.

Gallstone disease is the most common disorder affecting the body’s biliary system, the network of organs and ducts that create, transport, store, and release bile. Bile is a thick fluid, made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, which acts in the small intestine to digest fat. Bile contains cholesterol, water, proteins, bilirubin (a breakdown product from blood cells), bile salts (the chemicals necessary to digest fat), and small amounts of copper or other materials. If the chemical balance of bile contains too much of any of these components, particularly of cholesterol, crystals form and can harden into stones.

Bile is stored in the Gallbladder and is concentrated up to five times by the removal of water. Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Bile contains water, cholesterol, bilirubin and other substances. Ideally these minerals remain in liquid form until they are passed out of the body. However, excessive amounts of these minerals in bile can cause them to crystallize.

These small crystals that form out of the saturated bile may begin to clump together. Any existing crystals makes it easier for other crystals to form. If they stay in the gallbladder too long, the crystals gradually grow larger until they become a gallstone so large that it cannot pass through the biliary ducts.

In terms of size, gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. A person can form one large stone in his or her gallbladder, or hundreds! About 10 percent of the population has gallstones, but the vast majority experiences no symptoms and need no treatment. However, in 1 percent to 2 percent of these people, gallstones can cause problems by lodging in bile ducts, stopping the flow of bile or digestive enzymes, and leading to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, inflammation, and even life-threatening infection.

Gallstone attack has some classic symptoms:

The most agonizing pain is experienced in the upper right part of the abdomen under the ribs. Usually it appears suddenly, sometimes an hour or two after eating a fatty meal. The pain may get worse quickly, and then last for several hours. Many times the pain may radiate to the back between the shoulder blades or under the right shoulder. Inhaling deeply, or moving, often makes the pain worse. The primary therapy for gallstones that are causing pain, inflammation, or infection is removal of the gallbladder.

A number of factors put people at higher risk of gallstones:

  • Gender: Women between the ages of 20 and 60 are 3 times more likely to develop gallstones than are men in the same age group. By age 60, 20 percent of American women have gallstones.
  • Age: The incidence of gallstone disease increases with age.
  • Genetics: Family history and ethnicity are critical risk factors in development of gallstones, though no gene responsible for gallstone formation has yet been discovered. African-Americans seem to have lower rates of gallstone disease than American Indians, whites, or Hispanics.
  • Obesity: Obesity is a significant risk factor, particularly for women. Obesity also slows down the emptying of the gallbladder.
  • Location of body fat: Belly fat, that spare tire around the middle, dramatically increases the chance of developing stones.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes often have high levels of triglycerides in their blood, and these fatty acids tend to increase the risk of gallstones.

Even if you’re not at risk for gallstones, it is wise to maintain a healthy body weight, by among other things, sticking to a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.

If you are in the Las Vegas area and suffering with gallstones or gallbladder disease, schedule a consultation with Dr. Shawn Tsuda.

Gallbladder Disease - Doctor with chalkboard on white background

Tips for Choosing the Right Surgeon for You

Whether you need a complicated, invasive surgery or a simple out-patient operation, choosing the right surgeon can seem overwhelming. Even what should be relatively straightforward procedures such as gallbladder removal or hernia repair can sometimes result in serious complications, so you always want to be in good surgical hands. Here are some tips on finding the surgeon and hospital that are best for your situation.

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential surgeons, schedule a consultation. If you have a fairly urgent need for surgery, you may have to cross surgeons off of your list purely because of the wait for a visit. Otherwise, plan to meet with at least two surgeons and discuss your potential surgery.

Things to ask:

  • Is surgery necessary? The best way to avoid surgical errors is to avoid surgery entirely, so ask about the effectiveness and safety of alternatives. Compare those with the risks of surgery and the chance that it will help you.
  • Is your board certification up-to-date? Look for a surgeon who has undergone the necessary training, even after being in clinical practice, to maintain board certification in his or her specialty.
  • What’s your experience? Ask how many operations the surgeon has performed in the past year and how that compares with his or her peers.
  • What are your success, failure, and complication rates? Not all will be able or willing to tell you, but the good ones should.
  • What’s the hospital’s infection rate?
  • Does the hospital follow best practices? The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tracks how frequently hospitals give antibiotics on schedule, control blood sugar in heart-surgery patients, prepare skin properly before incisions and take other steps proven to help prevent surgical complications.Make the right choice.

You may be expected to schedule a surgery at the end of the consultation. If you are not confident that you have found your ideal surgeon, do not schedule the surgery. Either way, it’s fine to ask for a day to consider everything the doctor has said before making the surgery official.

If the surgeon you consulted with is not your ideal surgeon, schedule a consultation with a different surgeon. Even if you think the first surgeon is your best choice, a second opinion from another surgeon can be valuable. Most types of insurance will allow for two or three consultations. If you believe you have found your ideal surgeon you can schedule your surgery, confident in your decision.

If you’re looking for an experienced general surgeon in the Las Vegas area, Dr. Shawn Tsuda specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques including the laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, sleeve gastrectomy, foregut surgery, ventral and inguinal hernia repairs, endoscopy, and basic laparoscopy. Schedule a consultation to learn what he can do for you.

 

 

Robotic Gallbladder Surgery

A horrendous pain hits you in the upper right side or middle of the abdomen. You might think it’s a gas pain because your abdomen might feel especially full, or maybe it’s bad indigestion because you are also very nauseous and vomiting. These are all symptoms of a problem with the gallbladder. If the pain and/or nausea isn’t enough to send you to your doctor or the emergency room, symptoms such as fever, clay-colored stool, or yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice) should be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Gallbladder disease is very common, affecting about 10-15% of adults in Europe and the U.S. Treatment for gallbladder disease may include lifestyle changes and medication. However, if your symptoms worsen, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder.

Fortunately, your gallbladder is an organ that you can live without. The surgery to remove Gallbladderthe gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy. This surgery can be performed using open surgery through one large incision or through minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy). Minimally invasive surgery can be done either through a few small incisions in your abdomen or one incision in your belly button. In laparoscopic procedures, surgeons use long-handled instruments to reach your gallbladder. One of the instruments is a tiny camera that takes images inside your body and sends them to a video monitor to guide surgeons as they operate.

Cholecystectomy through the belly button can be done using traditional single incision laparoscopy or da Vinci® Single-Site® Surgery. The da Vinci System features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and flexible Single-Site instruments. These features enable your doctor to operate with enhanced vision and precision.

It is important to discuss all treatment and surgical options with your doctor, as well as the risks and benefits of each. If your doctor believes you are a candidate for da Vinci Single-Site Surgery, your doctor removes your gallbladder using state-of-the-art precision instruments. With da Vinci, surgery is performed through one incision in the belly button, which dramatically limits visible scarring.

As a result of da Vinci technology, da Vinci Single-Site Cholecystectomy offers the following potential benefits compared to traditional laparoscopy:

  • Low rate of major complications
  • Low conversion rate to open surgery
  • Virtually scarless surgery
  • High patient satisfaction
  • Minimal pain

Though it is often called a “robot,” da Vinci cannot act on its own. Surgery is performed entirely by your doctor. This state-of-the-art technology must be operated by an experienced and specially trained surgeon like Dr. Tsuda.

If you need gallbladder surgery, contact Dr. Shawn Tsuda to see if you are a candidate for this type of procedure. Da Vinci surgery allows one to get back to normal life much more quickly than with traditional open and even laparoscopic surgeries.