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A Happier, Healthier, and More Comfortable Life After Outpatient Gallbladder Surgery


With complex systems that work in perfect harmony when we’re healthy, the human body is an amazing thing. In fact, the body is so remarkable that it can adapt and continue to function after some organs, such as the gallbladder, are removed for medical reasons.

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that sits just below the liver on the right side of the abdomen. If you were to curl your fingers under the lower right side of your ribcage, you’d be very close to the location of your gallbladder. The gallbladder stores a digestive fluid produced in your liver known as bile that helps break down fats consumed through food.

Unfortunately, sometimes the gallbladder can become diseased. Gallbladder disease is a term for several conditions that can affect the organ, but gallstones are the most common of all gallbladder diseases. They develop when substances in the bile (such as cholesterol, bile salts, and calcium) form hard particles that block the passageway to the gallbladder. In addition, stones tend to form when the gallbladder doesn’t empty completely or often enough. They vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.

According to William Olson, MD, FACS, a Quad-City based general surgeon specializing in surgery for digestive system abnormalities, your gastrointestinal system can efficiently adapt to the organ’s removal. “Think of the gallbladder as a bile storage tank. Without a gallbladder, your body will continue to make the bile needed. The bile will just trickle from the liver to the intestine rather than being stored in a separate organ,” says Dr. Olson. “The gallbladder has a purpose, but it is not essential. Our body can adapt to its removal.”

Diagnosing Problems With the Gallbladder
There are specific pain points that are commonly attributed to gallbladder ailments, such as discomfort in the upper area of the abdomen that radiates to the back and shoulder. However, diagnosing gallbladder disease can be challenging. That’s because many less obvious symptoms of gallbladder trouble are often ignored or misdiagnosed.

“More subtle symptoms of gallbladder failure such as bloating, gas, loose stool, and generally feeling fatigued are often ignored by a patient, or they are credited to other medical conditions,” says Dr. Olson. “That’s why it can sometimes take a very long time — maybe even years — for an accurate diagnosis.” He adds that because many signs of gallbladder disease are missed, it’s extremely important to be an effective communicator with your physician.

”Diets high in fat and low in fiber can be precursors to gallbladder conditions, and while research is limited on the topic, there are some indicators that genetics play a role,“ says Dr. Olson. “Talk proactively with your doctor about your eating habits and family medical history so they can consider all the possible options for your discomfort — including gallbladder disease. Your health care professional is always more likely to improve your well-being when information they receive is as comprehensive as possible.”

A Minimally Invasive Approach to Removing The Gallbladder
Thanks to advancements in health care, a minimally invasive approach to gallbladder removal is available on an outpatient basis. Minimally invasive gallbladder removal is known in the medical community as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. During the procedure, a small, thin tube is inserted just below the navel through a tiny incision. The surgeon can then see the gallbladder on a television screen, and the removal is completed through a small series of incisions made in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen.

Dr. Olson sees many advantages to this innovative approach. “I’m a big advocate for improved procedures and how they help patient outcomes. With a minimally invasive approach to gallbladder removal, you may be able to return to work sooner, have less pain after surgery and have a shorter recovery time,” says Dr. Olson. He adds that the minimally invasive approach to gallbladder surgery allows him to perform the procedures in outpatient surgery centers.

“I read a lot of patient surveys, and I try to listen very hard to what’s important to them,” says Dr. Olson. “Over and over, our patients tell us the outpatient experience is friendly, warm, comforting and convenient. Happier, healthier, and more comfortable patients are a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone.”

If you would like to learn more about gallbladder conditions, call Dr. Olson’s office at 563-344-8333. His staff of health care experts can help you navigate the referral process to a surgical specialist should the need arise.

If you would like to learn more about all the advantages of outpatient surgery, visit the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center’s website at mvhealth.net or connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MississippiValleySurgeryCenter.