Questions and Answers About Gallstones and Gallbladder Surgery

Operating room ,doctor preparing device and instrument for operate patient in hospital

With General Surgeon Dr. Steven Jackson

NRMC General Surgery Associates

Question: What is the purpose of the gallbladder?

Dr. Jackson: The gallbladder is an organ that plays a role in digestion by releasing a fluid called bile into the small intestines. The gallbladder is located near the liver in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.

Question: Why do gallstones form?

Dr. Jackson: Causes include too much cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile, some blood disorders, or a poorly functioning gallbladder that does not release bile effectively. Each of these can lead to the formation of crystals or pebbles. These solid masses can block the bile ducts and cause an infection and inflammation in the gallbladder.

Question: What are the symptoms of gallstones?

Dr. Jackson: Gallstones can cause sharp pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Other common symptoms are vomiting, sweating, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, and fever. An infection can lead to serious illness.

Question: How do you diagnose gallstones?

Dr. Jackson: When a person comes in with pain and illness suggestive of gallstones or other gallbladder issues, we do imaging – CT scan, ultrasound, or sometimes MRI – of the gallbladder to see what’s going on. We look for gallstones and whether or not there are any blockages. We also do blood tests to check for infection and liver enzymes.

Question: When is surgery needed to remove the gallbladder?

Dr. Jackson: When gallstones are blocking the bile ducts causing pain, infection, and inflammation, the condition will not improve on its own, and surgery is needed. There are also other conditions that can lead to removal of the organ. We do most of these surgeries laparoscopically using four small incisions. The recovery is much faster than if we need to do traditional surgery which is done through one larger incision.

Question: Do you need a gallbladder?

Dr. Jackson: The gallbladder serves an important function, but for people with gallstones and gallbladder disease, it is necessary to remove the organ. After removing the gallbladder, the liver continues to produce bile but instead of it going into the gallbladder, the bile goes directly from the liver into the small intestines where it then helps with digestion.

For more information on gallbladder disease or for an appointment with Dr. Jackson, please call 318.214.5770. NRMC General Surgery Associates is in the Multispecialty Clinic, adjacent to NRMC. In an emergency, patients should go to NRMC’s Emergency Department. General Surgery Associates are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


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