About every 5th woman and every 10th man over 40 years of age have gallstones. Gallstones can be detected using an ultrasound scan. Gallstones often do not cause any discomfort at first, but they can always lead to cramp-like pain in the upper abdomen, so-called bilious attacks. Surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) can be considered from this point on. However, the gallbladder should definitely be removed immediately when an inflammation is detected.
Waiting too long before the operation can result in gallstones also moving into the main bile duct and thus blocking biliary drainage. In addition to massive pain, this leads to liver damage with jaundice. The situation becomes even more complicated when gallstones also moves the common outlet with the pancreatic duct into the duodenum and thus additionally cause inflammation of the pancreas.
In most patients, the surgery can be performed by a minimally invasive laparoscopic technique. This means that the gallbladder is removed via several small 5 to 12 mm skin incisions through which a camera and several instruments are inserted.
After complication-free, laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder, patients can usually leave the hospital 3 to 4 days after the operation. No special diet is required after surgery. Even without the gallbladder, which served as a reservoir, the liver is able to produce enough bile to digest fat.
Physical exertion or sporting activities should be somewhat limited during the first 2-3 weeks after a complication-free surgery. Depending on the professional activity, sick leave of one to three weeks can be expected.
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