If you develop gallstones, you’ll understandably have a lot of questions you need answered. For example, will they need to be removed or will they pass naturally?
Here, we’ll look at when gallstones might need to be removed and how surgery typically works.
Do Gallstones Always Have to Be Removed?
The simple answer here is no – not all gallstones need to be removed. In fact, the majority of gallstones go away without any treatment plan at all. However, in some cases the only option may be to have them removed.
If removal is recommended, you will be scheduled for surgery to remove the gallbladder. Some instances where surgery may be required include:
- If the gallstones create a blockage
- If they cause severe pain
- If there are a lot of stones present
If the gallstones were to create a blockage, it could pose serious health issues. Similarly, if they lead to severe pain, it could also interfere with your ability to carry out daily activities. These are the main situations when you may need to have them surgically removed.
What Is Gallstone Surgery?
There are different types of gallstone surgery you can undergo. The first is open surgery. This involves making an incision in your abdomen which the gallbladder can be removed from. This type of surgery is carried out on overweight patients, pregnant women in their third trimester and on those with bleeding disorders.
The second type of surgery is laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Also referred to as keyhole surgery, small cuts are made before a thin, flexible tube complete with camera and light, is inserted. Special tools will then be used to remove the organ.
What Are the Risks and Complications?
While you don’t actually need your gallbladder to survive, there are some risks and complications you need to be aware of.
Like any surgery, there is a risk of complications with the anesthesia. You may also develop an infection, bleeding, bile leakage or swelling. During the surgery, there is a risk the surgeon could damage the bile duct or the intestines, bowel and blood vessels.
You should be informed of the risks and complications before you agree to undergo the surgery. The majority of gallbladder surgeries result in no complications. However, it is still important to be aware of the things that could go wrong.
Benefits of Gallstone Removal
Undergoing surgery to remove gallstones can have numerous benefits on your life. It can:
- Help to eliminate pain
- Ensure you can carry out daily tasks with ease
- Prevent problems from recurring
- Prevents serious problems developing
Once you have undergone the surgery, the pain from gallstones will be eliminated. You won’t have any trouble carrying out daily tasks and there is no chance they will reoccur. Without surgery, the recurrence rate of gallstones is high. So, it is the only way to truly stop future stones from forming.
So, the truth is, gallstones don’t always have to be removed. Most of the time they resolve by themselves. However, if you have severe symptoms or they reoccur frequently, having the gallbladder removed is an effective treatment option to consider.