Endocrine, Gallbladder, Hernia and General Surgeon 

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From Consultant Surgeon Mr James Kirkby-Bott

More Information about Gallbladder Issues

FAQ Gallbladder Surgery

Frequently asked questions about gallbladder surgery
 Post gallbladder operation advice is available here

Common questions Mr Kirkby-Bott is frequently asked about gallbladder surgery

Is there a medicine which dissolves gallstones stones and avoids surgery?

You should think about why you have stones in the first place,
  • What causes gallstones to form?
  1. Gallstones form because the bile solution, which is a very complicated solution, made up of both fat soluble and water soluble parts is in a delicate balance. When that balance of the constituent parts is altered, parts of what are in the solution will precipitate out of the solution to form solid stones - gallstones. Hence giving a medicine to dissolve the stones will not alter the fact that the balance of the bile constituents in your body is such that it will precipitate out of solution. Therefore new stones will continue to form.
  2. Another reason why stones can form from this delicate solution is that this solution stops moving and so it gets held without much movement, As a result of limited movement  parts of the solution can precipitate out and form stones which then grow in size over time. This situation also is prone to infections forming

Why do you have to remove the whole gallbladder?

Many people ask why can't you just remove the stones from the gallbladder, If you cut into the gallbladder this would cause scar tissue. This would then result in the  gallbladder moving in a less co-ordinated fashion so being even less mobile and less able to move the bile solution within it. Hence stones would form because of the scar tissue from having cut into the gallbladder to remove the stones. For that reason just taking the stones out of the gallbladder will not solve the problem in the long term. You will form new stones. 
Recurrent surgery is always more difficult than the first time increasing the risks of complications. Another reason to just do the surgery once and have the whole gallbladder removed.

Can I survive without a gallbladder?

Yes, you don't really need a gallbladder. It is a bit of an embryological remnant we think that forms as a by-product of the development of the biliary tree. It has a function but one you can survive without particularly once problems develop in the gallbladder that can cause more harm than good.
The gallbladders function is to contract in response to a fatty meal. The gallbladder holds a small reservoir of bile and releases bile into the gut which helps digestion of fatty foods by emulsifying the fats within the food that has been eaten.  Without a gallbladder your body adapts to hold more bile in the bile ducts and it will still make bile which will go into your gut when you've had a meal, even without a gallbladder.

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