The gallbladder is a relatively small organ or pouch situated directly beneath the liver. The function of the gallbladder is to store bile produced by the liver and secreted into the gallbladder through the common bile duct. After you eat, various responses in the body trigger the gallbladder to squirt bile into the small intestine through ducts. The bile aides in the digestion of fats.
While the gallbladder is certainly helpful in aiding the body to digest fats, it is not essential, and people who experience malfunction or disease of the gallbladder can live perfectly healthy lives without one. Individuals who have been diagnosed with gallstones, inflammation of the gallbladder, or cancer of the gallbladder will benefit from its removal.
Removal of the gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy. Today, this procedure is most commonly performed through a laparoscopic approach, utilizing very small cuts in the upper quadrant of the abdomen through which a laparoscope and other small instruments perform the procedure without having to make a traditional "open" surgical procedure through a large incision.
Prior to the surgical procedure, which typically lasts under 2 hours, the surgeon inflates the abdomen with carbon dioxide or air to create more space for easy viewing of the gallbladder. The laparoscope, a small, narrow tube with a lighted scope and video camera attached to one end, is inserted into a very small incision close to the belly button. Several surgical tools are inserted through 2 to 3 very small incisions in the upper abdomen as well, which allow access for insertion of these tools used during the procedure. The surgeon is then able to view your internal organs and gallbladder on a video or monitor screen in the surgical suite.
The gallbladder is tied off and separated from its attachments to the liver and the bile duct. The detached gallbladder is then removed through one of the surgical incisions or ports in the abdomen. In most cases, you will only need to remain in the hospital for one night, as opposed to traditional open surgery, which may require a 3- to 5-day hospital stay.
Gallbladder removal or cholecystectomy surgery is generally performed by a trained urologist and surgeon who specializes in laparoscopic procedures. Traditional laparotomy and laparoscopic-guided cholecystectomy requires hands-on training normally engaged during surgical residency programs. Such surgeons have trained on simulation devices in order to practice and hone techniques in laparoscopic suturing, clipping applications, and knot-tying. Clinical experience is enhanced by a surgeon's assisting on laparoscopic operations and then performing laparoscopic procedures themselves under the direction of trained and experienced surgeons. Clinical laparoscopic training and general surgery residency programs are recommended and demanded in most locations around the world.
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