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Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder Surgery

What is the surgeons duty of care during a gallbladder surgery?

Understanding Gallstones

The gallbladder (or cholecyst or gall bladder) is a pear-shaped organ located in the right upper abdomen below the liver.

Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder until needed by the body.  Bile aids in the body’s digestive process.  When the bile contains too much cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin, it can harden into stone-like substances called gallstones.  Gallstones can occur anywhere in the bilary tract, and can vary in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.  Gallstones do not always produce symptoms.  These are called “silent stones.”  Usually no treatment is recommended for silent gallstones.

When gallstones are symptomatic, the preferred treatment is the surgical removal of the gallbladder, by a procedure known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal surgery.

Gallstones or gallbladder attack is a serious condition that can cause fever, prolonged pain, and even infection of the gallbladder.  More serious complications of gallstones may occur if the gallstone passes out of the cystic duct and into and down the common bile duct, causing bile duct infection, inflammation of the pancreas, or pancreatitis, or obstruction of the common bile duct, a condition called choledocholithiasis.

When gallstones are symptomatic, the preferred treatment is the surgical removal of the gallbladder, by a procedure known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal surgery.
Choledocholithiasis is a serious medical condition that can cause jaundice and liver cell damage.  Medical professionals recommend that you immediately contact your doctor if you experience any signs or symptoms associated with gallstones and immediately call 911 if you have any symptoms of a serious gallstone complication such as intense abdominal pain, yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes, or are experiencing a fever.

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

During the gallbladder removal surgery, it is essential for the surgeon to properly visualize all of the vital structures associated with the biliary track before performing any clipping or dissection.

Many of the structures are small and may be difficult to ascertain merely by viewing them on a television monitor.  The common bile duct, for example, is a vital structure that must not be damaged or insulted during the procedure.

An insult to the common bile duct by the surgeon during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy will cause a serious injury with possible life-long consequences for the patient, including possible eventual liver damage.

Error During Gallbladder Surgery

It is the surgeon’s duty to protect the vital structures of the biliary system during a gallbladder surgery.  If there is any doubt as to proper identification of the each structure, the procedure should be converted to an open procedure where the surgeon can better identify and palpate the structures to ensure their proper identity.  The failure to do so may be a surgical error and cause a serious injury to the patient.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or a loved-one has been injured during a gallbladder surgery, it is important to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.

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