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Gallbladder Surgery Complications

Gallbladder Surgery Complications
What are the common gallbladder surgery complications? Scroll down to learn about the post-cholecystectomy complications.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
There are various gallbladder diseases that can strike a perfectly healthy person, at any stage in his life. These include gallbladder inflammation, gallbladder stones (gallstones), gallbladder rupture, sphincter of oddi dysfunction and sphincter constrictions among others. Most of these gallbladder diseases invariably require surgery known as Cholecystectomy, which often necessitates the complete removal of the gallbladder. As is the case with any surgery, this surgical procedure could also cause certain complications. Here are some of the common gallbladder surgery complications.
Injury to Bile Duct
There may be injury to the bile duct, due to the limited visibility in the laparoscopic surgery. This could lead to complications such as bile leak and abdominal pain.
An inflammation of the bile duct is known as cholangitis, which a person may face due to injury to the bile duct. It may be caused due to bacterial infection or due to the waste material regurgitating in the small bowel. The infection may spread to the liver, if not treated immediately.
Bile Leak
This surgery involves the removal of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is the sac in the body that holds the excessively produced bile from the liver. After the surgery, the bile being produced may leak onto the pancreas or the small intestine, causing severe pain. This is also known as 'dumping of bile' and can lead to acute abdominal pain and jaundice. This is unfortunately one of the major complications, that yet does not have a definite cure. Sometimes this condition may even escalate into pancreatitis. Its occurrence may even be idiopathic.
Slip of the Clip
Normally after the removal of the gallbladder, the remaining portion of the bile duct is clipped to prevent bile leaks and other complications. However, this clip may dislocate slightly, leading to pain and increased risk of bile leak in the abdominal area. This is a relatively rare complications.
Other Complications
Missed gallstones is another problem that crops up in around 6% of surgeries, wherein all gallstones are not removed. In such cases, a patient may have to undergo the surgery again. Post surgery one may experience a breathing problem, vomiting due to anesthesia and signs of fatigue.
Symptoms Mimicking Gallbladder Attacks
Often patients opt for this surgery because they show gallbladder attack symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, indigestion and other bowel problems after surgery like, fever, abnormal stool passage, or acute and unrelenting pain in the upper right abdominal region. Thus, they are surprised to see that even after the removal of the gallbladder, these symptoms are often seen. This is called post cholecystectomy syndrome. An alarming 40% of patients that have undergone this surgery, have the same complaints post-surgery, for months or even years. This is one of the more common complications. This needs to be evaluated by using ultrasound and perhaps other invasive procedures.
Biliary Colic
There might be colicky pain in the abdominal region, that could be due to spasms of the gallbladder sphincter. In this case, a sphincterotomy is performed to help ease the pain. However, there may be cases of pain even after the sphincterotomy procedure, although the attacks will be less frequent and severe. The tendency for this biliary colic is increased in patients with ductal stenosis (narrowing of duct).
Infection of Incision
If adequate post-operative care is not taken, the incision may get infected. This infection will lead to pain in abdominal region, scarring and delayed healing time, perhaps even the need for hospitalization.
Higher Blood Cholesterol Levels
Due to the removal of the gallbladder, there is no longer a storehouse for the bile in the body. This leads to difficulty in digesting fat, as bile is the secretion of the liver that helps digest fats. Thus, people need to be careful with their diet and need to strictly avoid fatty foods post-surgery. People that fail to do so, not only end up having abdominal pain, but also end up with high levels of cholesterol, which can easily lead to other complications.
Most people manage to live a normal and problem free life after a gallbladder surgery. A person can easily live a happy, long and healthy life, free of any complications by following a healthy diet and making the right lifestyle choices.