Patients Love this Common Surgery
July 27, 2015
If you're healthy, you probably don't think about your gallbladder much. It stores bile, a substance produced and created by the liver used to break down fat for digestion. Although your gallbladder performs an important function, it's not an essential organ. If this pear-shaped organ becomes inflamed, infected, or in rare cases, cancerous – your doctor may recommend gallbladder removal, medically referred to as a cholecystectomy.
Gallbladder removal is one of the most commonly performed major abdominal surgeries performed in the US.1
Gallbladder removal can be performed using open surgery through a single 5-7 inch incision or, usually, with minimally invasive techniques called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. With laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon uses a few small incisions in the abdomen and long-handled instruments to reach the gallbladder.
The initial driving force behind the rapid development of laparoscopic cholecystectomy was born from patient requests for less scaring, less pain, and faster recovery time.3
The Robotic Next Step
With the da Vinci Surgical System, doctors remove your gallbladder using a robot that gives them enhanced vision and precision. In addition, you experience significantly less scarring since there is only one incision in the belly button. Some patients claim there is almost no scar.
"Using the da Vinci robot dramatically limits visible scarring since it is one single incision. For my patients, it has become the chosen method of gallbladder removal," says Dr. Joseph Garcia, ARC General Surgeon at ARC Far West Medical Tower and ARC Southwest.
This method of robotic surgery has such high patient satisfaction and success that Dr. Garcia offers this as the first option to his patients. In one case, Dr. Garcia performed a cholecystectomy on a teenager and a week later she went to Disney World with her family.
Pain Below the Ribs
Gallbladder problems produce pain in the right upper side of the abdomen, below the ribs. The pain can be constant or may become severe after a heavy meal, but can also feel more like fullness.
If you have these symptoms, only you and your General Surgeon can determine if gallbladder removal is the right diagnosis for you – and which method will work best.
1 Litwin DE, Cahan MA. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Surg Clin North Am. 2008 Dec. 88(6):1295-313, ix.[Medline].
2 National Institutes of Health (NIH). Gallstones and Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. NIH Consensus Statement. NIH. September 14-16, 1992. Available at http://consensus.nih.gov/1992/1992GallstonesLaparoscopy090html.htm.