The gall bladder is a small sac like structure situated just below the liver on the right side below your ribs. It stores bile which is released after eating and helps with the absorption of fat. Gall stones can develop within the gall bladder for a variety of reasons and can cause repeated attacks of pain, jaundice and in some cases pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Most patients who have gall stones complain of pain on the right side, just below the rib cage, spreading to their right shoulder or in a band like fashion to the whole of the upper abdomen. Your general practitioner will arrange for basic blood tests and an ultrasound scan to confirm the diagnosis and refer you to a specialist surgeon.
Depending on the exact nature of your problem you may need further tests. Treatment in most instances would involve removing the diseased gall bladder, including the gall stones by keyhole surgery (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) which is performed under a general anaesthetic. In some patients keyhole surgery is inappropriate and occasionally the operation cannot be completed by keyhole surgery – in such cases the gall bladder is removed by an open procedure. Following laparoscopic cholecystectomy most patients are able to go home within 24 hours. Patients undergoing an open traditional operation need to stay in hospital between 48-72 hours.
A detailed information sheet regarding the procedure and the possible risks will be provided prior to the operation.
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