Gallbladder disease is all too common, with over 1.2 million people in the US alone needing gallbladder surgery each year. Although there are different types of gallbladder disease, gallstones and inflammation are the most common. However, the symptoms aren’t always so straightforward.
Some people experience chronic symptoms but don’t realize they need a gallbladder removal procedure. If you’ve been having symptoms, it’s best to learn more about gallbladder disease to get the treatment you need sooner.
You’ll need to keep reading this guide to learn the warning signs that indicate you may need gallbladder surgery.
Warning Signs You May Need a Gallbladder Removal Procedure
Your gallbladder stores bile that’s produced by your liver. It’s also located underneath your liver and is critical in fat digestion.
With gallbladder disease, you can have stones that cause a blockage of your gallbladder. Inflammation of your gallbladder, also known as cholecystitis, can be acute or chronic.
Since gallbladder disease can cause infection and inflammation of the gallbladder, you’ll experience various symptoms that include:
Sharp Pain in Your Upper Right Abdomen
One of the most common symptoms of gallbladder disease is experiencing pain in your right upper abdomen. Often the pain can spread to your right shoulder, or you’ll feel it under your breast bone.
This pain can present in different ways. First, some people experience intermittent pain called biliary colic.
After you eat, bile moves from the gallbladder to the common bile duct and cystic duct and mixes with food. However, if a gallstone blocks one of these ducts, your bile duct muscles contract to remove this stone, causing biliary colic.
In other cases, some people feel a steady pain that can become severe and persistent. This ongoing pain can last for a few days and increases when you try to take a breath.
Acute gallbladder inflammation comes on quickly and usually causes the most pain. You’ll typically have gallstones or sludge in the bile duct and constant symptoms.
On the other hand, chronic gallbladder disease consists of mild inflammation. When you have chronic gallbladder problems, your gallbladder can become stiff and scarred. You’ll also have ongoing digestive issues.
Nausea and Vomiting
If you have a gallbladder problem, you can experience nausea, vomiting, and pain. It usually occurs after eating a meal and can last a few hours. For some people, nausea and vomiting occur intermittently but not daily. You may also experience other digestive symptoms that include:
- Chronic gas
- Feeling bloated
- Abdominal distension
- Loss of appetite
Often these symptoms are vague, and you might not associate them with gallbladder disease. This leads to gallbladder disease going undiagnosed for an extended period of time, causing more damage.
You should get an evaluation if you have these symptoms after meals, especially fatty ones. Having gallbladder removal surgery can ease these symptoms and improve your overall health.
Dark Urine or Clay Colored Stools
Your liver releases bile salts that give your stool a brown color. If your liver doesn’t produce enough bile or the flow is blocked, your stool can become clay-colored or pale.
Once gallstones block one of your ducts, you may see clay-colored stools often. Other illnesses like hepatitis and cirrhosis can also cause this symptom. Most people have gallbladder symptoms along with clay-colored stools. Regardless, you’ll need an evaluation to determine the cause.
Dark or tea-colored urine can also be a sign of gallbladder disease. A blockage in the bile duct can cause your urine to appear darker than normal. Some people may also have orange-colored urine.
It’s important to be aware of this gallbladder symptom since sometimes it’s one of the few symptoms people have. For example, older adults may experience dark urine but not have other typical gallbladder symptoms.
Fever and Chills
Gallbladder inflammation results from bile building up, but sometimes a gallstone completely obstructs one of the ducts.
Bacteria in the bile can lead to infections, ruptures, or abscesses. An abscess can lead to a severe bloodstream infection.
It’s essential to know that you generally won’t have a fever with just a gallbladder attack on its own. Remember, a fever is a sign of an infection. So, if you have a fever with gallbladder symptoms, it can mean you’re developing an infection.
Additionally, pain lasting over six hours can indicate a gallbladder infection.
If you have a fever and chills, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. You’ll likely need blood tests and scans to confirm the diagnosis.
Gallbladder Surgery Options
You should ask about your surgical options if you’ve been evaluated and need surgery. You’re likely familiar with laparoscopic surgery, which involves making keyhole incisions.
However, nowadays, robotic surgeries are the answer to many different issues, like gallbladder removal and hernia repair.
Robotic surgery for the gallbladder is becoming more and more popular and offers a lot of benefits that include:
- Smaller incisions
- Less visible scars
- Less pain after surgery
- Faster recovery
- Less trauma
Robotic surgery is also more precise. During robot-assist surgery, the surgeon controls robotic arms to perform surgery. The arm holds the necessary instruments for the surgery.
These arms can make very tiny and controlled movements while your surgeon is in complete control. Having this eliminates small arm movements that humans can make.
Make sure to find an experienced surgeon to get more information about this type of surgery.
Talk to an Experienced Surgeon Today
Remember, if you’re experiencing symptoms, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. If your symptoms indicate you need a gallbladder removal procedure, it’s time to make an appointment with a surgeon.
The good news is that you can turn to SURGCO for all your needs. We have an experienced and professional team that offers state-of-the-art robotic-assisted gallbladder surgery.
Our physician Dr. Valentine has been practicing in Hendersonville and Nashville since 2007. He performs robotic-assisted surgery for conditions like gallbladder disease, hernias, and diverticulitis.
Our expert staff will take the time to answer your questions and make you feel comfortable about your treatment options.
Make sure to contact us today to schedule your first appointment.