Top 5 Ways of Picking your Gallbladder Surgeon

In Sacramento, CA

misc image


Gallbladder surgery (surgical removal of the gallbladder) is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States: approximately 600,000 procedures performed each year.

Once you have symptoms of gallbladder disease:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Fatty food intolerance
  • Upper abdominal pain

These symptoms will usually only resolve with proper surgical care. Surprisingly, each year, even individuals with normal test results can discover they have a diseased gallbladder. This is why seeking out a general surgeon as soon as possible will create a lot better experience for patients.

In order to make the best decision, and ensure you receive the best care possible, there are 5 things to consider when picking your gallbladder surgeon….

1. Qualifications

What are the surgeons’ qualifications?

A few good questions for this person:

  • If you had a gallbladder issue, who would you go to?
  • How much experience does this doctor have with complex gallbladder operations?
  • What complications can occur with cholecystectomy, and how often does that surgeon experience that complication?

Leading experts advocate doctors to have clear, simple explanations, including visual aids, to ensure patients understand the procedure, the medical issue at hand, and the surgical approach. As patients we all feel much better when we understand the entire process and feel calm and confident about the decision we are making about our care. The best patient experience starts with an amazing doctor-patient relationship. This relationship should feel like an incredible partnership in your healthcare.

You can also check with your state’s Medical Board to see if there have been serious complaints filed against your prospective doctor.

Remember though, excellent surgeons will probably have some complaints, but asking about them, and judging how your doctor responds will tell you a lot.

Once you believe you have picked your surgeon here are a few helpful questions you may want to ask:

  • How long have you been doing this operation?
  • What is your surgical approach?
  • Are you Board Certified?

2. Experience

Does the surgeon have experience in performing gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) using minimally invasive techniques?

For decades, gallbladder surgery was performed using a rather large incision in the right upper abdomen, frequently subjecting the patient to:

  • An extended hospital stay
  • Several months of recovery
  • Unflattering scarring many patients were not happy with

This changed radically in the early 1990’s, when surgeons adopted a revolutionary approach to the operation, using 3-4 tiny (1/4”) incisions, called laparoscopy. This technique is very similar to arthroscopic joint surgery, that also minimizes the size of incisions to perform some orthopedic operations.

Laparoscopic Instrument

Laparoscopic Instrument

Making the jump to minimally invasive surgery led to a vastly improved experience for the patient. Most gallbladder surgery can now be performed as an outpatient, with the patient being discharged home within a few hours of their operation. After the surgery, patients experience minimal discomfort, and can usually take care of themselves shortly after the operation. Most people can return to work within a few days of the operation, depending of the physical requirements of their jobs. In some cases, people have been able to return to work the day after surgery.

*This does not mean this will be the case for you, please consult your doctor

If your surgeon performs gallbladder surgery laparoscopically, the next question for him/her, is:

  • Do you use a robot to make the operation even less painful and more successful?

Robotic Surgeon at Intuitive Surgical – Da Vinci Xi Control Console

The operation is still done laparoscopically, but robot arms are attached to the camera and the surgical instruments. Instead of the surgeon directly manipulating the instrument with his hands, robotic arms are attached to each instrument. The surgeon then takes control of the instruments/robot at a control console, usually several feet away from the operating room table. The surgeon looks into the robotic monitor, allowing him/her to see the view inside the abdomen; with their special technology the surgeon sees the anatomy in 3D, not the typical 2D seen on a TV during laparoscopy. Using hand and foot controls, the surgeon can direct the camera and surgical instruments to execute the operation with greater precision and less trauma to your skin!

Intuitive Surgical – Da Vinci Xi

It is important to point out, the patient is not being operated on by a machine or robot, the robot is simply an interphase between the surgeon and the instrument. If the surgeon stops using the control, the robot does nothing.

Why does the robot matter for the patient?

The patient will experience even less pain at the incision sites, than they would with just laparoscopy. For this reason, many recommend to pick an experienced robotic surgeon to perform your minimally invasive operation. And, in the right hands, there is no increased risk using the robot.

2.5 Do you think you may need gallbladder surgery?

Book a consultation with Dr. Patching today. He will get you in to see him as soon as possible. No waiting months like many other offices! Book a stress-free initial appointment and let’s figure out what is going on so you can get back to feeling good again!

3. Approach

What are the best approaches to minimizing post-op pain besides minimally invasive and robotic technology?

Nerve Blocks

The surgeon can have the anesthesia department perform nerve blocks just before going back to surgery. These nerve blocks stop the pain impulses to the brain, significantly decreasing pain for the patient post-surgery. Unfortunately, very few surgeons utilize this approach, but it can make a huge impact!


ERAS stands for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery. This protocol is designed to achieve early recovery after surgical procedures by reducing the bodies stress response following surgery.

Want to learn more about the best surgical approaches for your gallbladder surgery? Visit Our Approach Page to learn more about how we integrated all the above approaches into The Patching Surgical Protocol:

4. Website

Another way of checking into your surgeon, is to review their website.

This is a chance to ‘get to know your surgeon’ in more detail. See what they are saying about themselves and their patients; this can give you valuable insights. Then interview them to see if they really are as they portrayed themselves. And don’t be shy about getting several opinions before you commit to surgery. When you find the ‘right one’ you will know. Many people can read into others better than they give themselves credit for.

Also, how much have they put into their website to put out free healthcare education to help people make the best decisions for themselves and their families? We think this is a great way to see how dedicated this person is to help people improve their lives through better health. We all want someone to take care of us through an empathetic, compassionate, and patient demeanor. We want someone that treats us like we are part of their family! This is a way you can tell if this person uses their heart in the care they are providing for you.

5. Reviews

Perhaps the best way of finding the best Gallbladder Surgeon is to check what patients are saying about their experience with them by checking online reviews.

Many experts recommend google reviews over everything else. Why? Because you cannot submit a review anonymously. This way you will receive more reliable and credible information about your physician. Consider both star ratings and the volume of reviews for a more reliable assessment of accuracy. Do they have a lot of recent reviews or are almost all their reviews a year or more old? Listening to past patients is the best way to ensure you’re making the right decision for your gallbladder surgery in Sacramento, CA.



Thank you for taking the time to read about how to find the best gallbladder surgeon in Sacramento, CA. We hope you found all the information you were looking for.

If you are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Fatty food intolerance
  • Upper abdominal pain

And are concerned you may be suffering from a gallbladder condition please call our office today and book an immediate appointment with Dr. Steve Patching. Dr. Patching specializes in advanced abdominal procedures and we will work with you to get you in as soon as possible.

*Remember, if you have been told by another physician that you do not have gallbladder disease because your gallbladder tests are normal, and that you do not need surgery, please consult with a specialist first.


About the Author:


Dr. Steve Patching

  • Advanced Robotic & General Surgeon
  • Former Chief of Surgery – Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento
  • 1st surgeon in California to perform a robotic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal)
  • Voted #1 Physician Specialist in patient care in Sacramento & Bay Area – Sutter Network
  • Board Certified, General Surgery

More resources

Featured On