Gallbladder disease is one of the most common surgical issues seen in the United States. Gallstones are the most common cause of cholecystitis (inflammation/infection of the gallbladder). But incomplete contraction and emptying of the gallbladder (biliary dyskinesia) can also cause problems. At the office of Steven Patching, MD, in Sacramento, California, Dr. Patching and the team offer comprehensive care for gallbladder conditions. Book your appointment online or call the office for help today.
The least common cause of gallbladder symptoms are attributed to gallbladder polyps (benign growths). There are even some patients that can develop gallbladder symptoms that do not have gallstones or biliary dyskinesia. We see at least 6-8 patients a year that have serious gallbladder symptoms/disease, that had completely normal gallbladder tests, and they were told they did not have gallbladder disease; and yet, when we operate on them when we could not document another reason for their pain, they have confirmed disease on pathology and their symptoms resolved 95% of the time.
The only effective treatment of gallbladder disease is removal of the gallbladder surgically, referred to as cholecystectomy. It is performed with tiny incisions, smaller than a dime, and is done as an outpatient procedure. Do not be lulled into thinking that you do not require surgery because your symptoms went away for an extended period of time. This is typical of gallbladder symptoms. If you have had one attack and have a test that confirms gallbladder disease (either ultrasound or a HIDA scan), it is strongly recommend that you obtain a referral to a specialist. It is far safer and easier on you if you have the surgery electively, when the gallbladder is not infected, rather than waiting to develop an emergency situation and require emergency surgery when the risk increases, and their is a higher chance of requiring an operation with the traditional large incision.
We have been doing laparoscopic cholecystectomy for over 30 years, and have pioneered advanced techniques to minimize pain and recovery. I was the first surgeon to perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy operation in the state of California, using the Intuitive Surgical Xi robot . The robot reduces pain & recovery even more than simply making small incisions. We have also added preoperative nerve blocks that reduces pain further; many of our gallbladder patients only require Tylenol for pain control.
We accept virtually all insurances for gallbladder surgery patients, with the exception of Kaiser & Mercy Medical Group. Despite what you might be told, you can have surgery with us, if you chose, with all other medical groups. We have the lowest cash price available in the Sacramento region for cholecystectomy for patients that do not have insurance, or for those patients that want to go outside of their insurance.
Our program can make undergoing this procedure a very minor process for you and return you to your normal life within days of the operation.
The most common gallbladder conditions are:
Gallstones are hardened pieces of bile, an important digestive fluid. Generally, gallstones sit within your gallbladder, although they can also move into the bile ducts.
Cholecystitis is inflammation (swelling) of the gallbladder. This condition typically occurs when gallstones block the tube that bile normally flows through. The blockage leads to bile buildup and swelling.
Gallbladder cancer occurs when abnormal cells multiply inside your gallbladder, forming a tumor.
Biliary dyskinesia occurs when nerve or muscle problems prevent normal mechanical function in the gallbladder. Essentially, the gallbladder can’t ferry bile out through the bile ducts, leading to inflammation.
With chronic cholecystitis, the gallbladder can start to die. The affected tissues have a risk of rupturing, leading to a serious infection in your entire abdominal cavity.
In some cases, one gallbladder condition leads to another. For example, gallstones lead to cholecystitis. Untreated gallbladder disease could lead to complications, such as liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and bile duct scarring.
Gallbladder disease can affect anyone, but it’s most common in people who eat a lot of cholesterol, people who struggle with their weight (particularly a body mass index over 30), and older people.
Bariatric surgery patients have a higher risk of developing gallbladder disease due to rapid weight loss and changes how bile circulates after surgery.
However, while many post-bariatric surgery patients develop gallstones, only about 8%-15% experience symptoms like gas, nausea, and abdominal discomfort severe enough to need surgery.
Cholecystectomy, or surgical gallbladder removal, is the main treatment for gallbladder disease. Dr. Patching performs minimally invasive (laparoscopic or robotic) surgery to minimize your time in the hospital and give you a smooth recovery.
You can live without a gallbladder, but you may experience temporary bowel habit changes as your body adjusts after surgery.
If you can’t have surgery, Dr. Patching may recommend an oral medication to dissolve gallstones. However, the gallstones usually come back when you stop treatment, so it’s not the preferred approach.
Call Steven Patching, MD, or book your consultation through online scheduling today.