A predominant complaint after gallbladder surgery is abdominal pain. What causes abdominal pain after gallbladder surgery?
The gallbladder is situated right underneath the liver. It is a small sac like organ that stores bile secreted by the liver. It is responsible for fat absorption and digestion of the ingested food. It is a receptacle that uses bile for easy digestion of food before diverting it to the intestine. Sometimes, due to gallbladder disease or gallstones, the gallbladder may have to be surgically removed. Gallstones form when bile hardens into a thick stone like substance. If the bile contains excess cholesterol, bilirubin or bile salts, the bile liquid can formulate into gallstones. Gallstones can severely hamper the normal digestion process thereby blocking the normal flow of bile, as the gallstones travel from the gallbladder into hepatic duct, cystic duct or the bile duct.
Gallbladder surgery is performed laparoscopically. Laparoscopy or cholecystectomy is conducted by inserting tube like structures through several incisions in the abdomen. Gas is blown into the abdomen due to which the abdomen bloats up and the surgeon gets a clear view of the discrepancy. The cannula is a tube that has a microscopic camera attached. This cannula is navigated inside an incision to understand the condition. The images captured by the camera are thus reflected on the screen, and it is through this that the tubes inserted are maneuvered inside the abdomen to remove the gallstones.
Post-Surgery Effect on the Abdomen
After the gallbladder surgery, there is tenderness and pain in the abdomen. Abdominal pain is perhaps one of the most dominant post-operative complaint. Generally, it stays on for 24 to 72 hours after the surgery is conducted. This is due to the fact that gas was blown into the abdomen to inflate it.
This kind of abdominal pain (post-operative), is also referred to as a post-cholecystectomy syndrome. This syndrome occurs when the gallstones are present in the gallbladder, causing discomfort. Patients who have had the surgery recently, will experience pain on and off in the area, where the gallbladder was present before the surgery. There are times when the individual may experience a right-sided abdominal pain or pain under the ribs after the surgery. Gallstones may recur even without any symptoms, but it is not required that pain in the right side of the abdomen correlates to gallstones only. Patients may complain about the pain in the right side of the abdomen and surgeons may conduct tests that reveal the presence of gallstones, however it is not necessary that the pain is due to gallstones. It is thus required, that you submit a detailed pro forma of symptoms to your doctor so that diagnoses can be accurate.
Another reason is due to the absence of signals between the gallbladder, liver, and the intestinal tract. In the normal functioning of the gallbladder, when food has to be digested, the intestinal tract sends a signal to the gallbladder to release adequate bile content to facilitate digestion. When the gallbladder is removed, the liver directly sends the bile into the intestinal tract without the bile storage mechanism in place. This happens even when there is no food in the tract for digestion. Due to this there is an uncomfortable feeling in the abdominal cavity due to which there is abdominal pain.
How to Avert the Abdominal Pain after Surgery
- Changes in your diet can help avert the pain in the abdomen after surgery. Digestion is still a dicey task for the system for a brief period, thus fried foods, junk foods, sweeteners should be avoided.
- Beverages like coffee and tea must be scrupulously avoided. Be cognizant to the fact that these beverages may lead to developing pain in the area where the gallbladder resided before, resulting in utter discomfort. Coffee is said to be the major culprit in making matters worse and aggravating the diarrhea symptoms. One beverage you could consume without thinking twice, is water. Follow the banner rule of draining at least 8 glasses of water regularly. More than eight glasses is encouraging, however less than that, is certainly incorrigible.
- Consume foods that are bland in taste. Avoid spicy, marinated food. It can cause irritation to the abdominal cavity.
- Eat small and regular meals, giving your system time to digest small portions of food.
- Make sure that you drink enough water to flush out toxins. One of the reasons that gallstones occur is due to insufficient water intake than the daily requirement.
- Detoxify your system, making it a timely regimen. Make sure that you stay light, preferring liquid diet such as fruit and vegetable juices.
- Exercise well. Going for a jog or a dip into the pool can be a great regimen to follow as it aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Ensure that your surgeon knows about the exercises you undertake.
- Quit smoking and control your weight. If you are obese make sure that you work towards losing weight.
Abdominal pain after gallbladder surgery is thus commonly observed. However, negligence is not the solution. The solution is to follow the guidelines given above to prevent abdominal pain, and visit your professional health care provider if the pain persists.