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Signs And Symptoms: Do You Need To Have A Gallbladder Removal Surgery Due To Your Gall Bladder Stones?

Updated on December 8, 2016

More and more often today, people are having issues with their Gallbladder. Many people experience pain, usually from Gall Stones, and often they end up having their Gallbladder removed via surgery. In fact, more than half a million people have their Gallbladder removed each year, due to a Gallbladder stone problem or other problems involving the organ.

Part of the problem may be that we, as a people, are more obese than in years before. One of the biggest risk factors for Gall Stones is obesity. Not unrelated, rapid weight loss diets can increase a persons risk for developing Gall Stones. For this and other reasons, females are at a higher risk of Gallbladder problems than are men. This is particularly worrisome since gallbladder symptoms in women can be masked or diminished like heart attack and other thoracic and abdominal issues, due to differences in nerve location and referred pain locations. In fact, the main risk factors for Gall Stone development are obesity, female, at or over 40 years of age, and menopause.

What Is The Gallbladder?

The Gallbladder is a small organ that lies just below your Liver, slightly to the right of your stomach. It is only about 3-3.5 inches in length. It holds bile that is produced in the Liver and releases it into the Duodenum, the beginning of the small intestine, upon the presence of partially digested fats that are released from the stomach. This bile then emulsifies the fats to prepare them for digestion and metabolism.

It is believed that the Gallbladder stores higher concentrations of bile when a person has a high fat diet. If that is true, it is easy to see why calcifications, or Gall Stones, form more often in those who eat fatty foods more often. It is also understandable that many people who experience Gallbladder stone pain feel it worse after a fatty or greasy meal, since that is when the Gallbladder is called on to release bile. It is also, then, makes sense that when a person has their Gallbladder removed, they, initially at least, have trouble digesting some fats.

When these Gall Stones form, a person is at risk of developing Cholecystitis, (inflamed Gallbladder), Pancreatitis (inflammation of the Pancreas) or other infections due to the inability to move bile from the organ and due to the stones irritating the organ.

Signs And Symptoms Of Gallbladder Stones

Gallbladder symptoms in women, in particular, can be masked or different, just like symptoms from other serious medical issues. Signs for all patients generally include severe upper abdominal pain, more specifically abdominal pain just below the rib cage, below the right breast. This pain is generally constant and in many cases can occur after eating a greasy meal or after eating in general.

Although it sits in proximity to the lower right lung, it generally does not present as lung or right chest pain, however, a Gallbladder symptom can also be mid-back pain or right shoulder pain due to the location of nerve endings that sense referred pain.

The upper right abdominal pain can be accompanied by Nausea and/or Vomiting, along with sweating or diaphoresis (profuse sweating). Also, if the condition progresses without care, a person's skin and eyes can begin to yellow and a fever can occur. These tend to be late signs of the problem and could accompany diffuse abdominal pain (generalized pain) due to the infection and inflammation spreading throughout the abdomen.

Although possible to confuse with pain due to appendicitis, those questioning where there pain may be originating should remember that pain from appendicitis usually begins at the navel and travels to the right lower abdomen. It does not generally have any relationship to when you last ate or what type of food you ate.

Reasons To Have Gallbladder Removal Surgery

The two main reasons for Gallbladder removal surgery are Cholecystitis (infection of the Gallbladder), generally caused by Gall Stones in the Gallbladder or one of the ducts to the small intestine, or the existence of Gallbladder Cancer. Although Gallbladder cancer is serious and should be taken as such, Cholecystitis is both more prevalent and can cause further damage to the body and even death much more quickly than Gallbladder Cancer.

Although many people have "silent stones" that do not cause pain and generally go unnoticed, once a person begins to experience Gallbladder pain the end result is usually Gallbladder removal. The most definitive reason to have Gallbladder Removal Surgery is that if a person truly has Cholecystitis and allows it to go untreated, the infection will spread to nearby organs, including the small and large intestine. An untreated case will eventually lead to sepsis, shock, and then death. This pathway normally will not go unchanged due to the intense pain that is associated with the Cholecystitis.

Complications Of Gallbladder Removal Surgery

Here lies the definite reasons to not rush to Gallbladder Removal. Although in many cases people have true Cholecystitis and must have removal, others experience mild Gall Stone pain from "silent stones" or have digestive issues that may be related to their bile storage or production. Some of these people struggle with irritable bowels and just want some relief from never knowing when they may have to rush to the bathroom. Gallbladder removal should not be the first option for right upper quadrant abdominal pain. There needs to be confirmed stones and or confirmed inflammation in the organ itself.

For those just looking for digestive relief, you may find quite the opposite from Gallbladder Removal. Especially in the short term after removal, most patients experience very irritable bowels due to unrestricted bile flow to the small intestine. Although this can be controlled somewhat by change in diet, finding the right combination of food can be difficult. Also, if this can be controlled by diet change, it is highly likely that the irritable bowels experienced before removal can be controlled by diet to the same extent.

There is also a small possibility that patients who have had Gallbladder stone issues and have their Gallbladder removed will have issues with scar tissue. When the Gallbladder is removed, the ducts to and from the Gallbladder are severed, stapled, and cauterized. In this process, scar tissue can form and can cause more digestive issues or sensitivity. For these an other reasons you should not push your doctor for Gallbladder removal, but rather allow them to assess the need for it and give you an educated decision.

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    • bearachute profile image

      bearachute 6 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Nobody told me at all about the consequences of having mine removed 3 years ago, of course my operation was an emergency. It's nice to see some information on the possible outcomes.