The gallbladder is an organ located under the liver. The liver makes bile every day and that bile is stored in the gallbladder. When food is eaten (especially fatty foods) the gallbladder is the organ that squeezes the bile out through the cystic duct and into the small intestine. A person with conditions, such as gallstones or a perforated gallbladder, may require surgery to remove the gallbladder. Compared to a planned gallbladder surgery, emergency gallbladder surgery is more likely to carry complications.
From data analyzed from almost 600 gallbladder surgeries performed over an eight month period, 22 patients had a total of 35 complications. Of these 22 patients 18 had emergency surgery. Additionally, 90 percent of night time surgeries after 7 pm were emergency procedures. Surgeries conducted at night were associated with an increase in the risk for complications. This specific study was too small to generalize the finding or to show a cause and effect relationship. However, further research into this issue is warranted.
As with all types of surgeries, there are possible complications. These complications include bleeding, bile duct injury, fever, liver injury, infection, raised scars, anesthesia complications, numbness, hernia at the incision site, intestinal punctures, and death.
Despite the risks, there are benefits to gallbladder surgery. Removing the gallbladder will relieve pain, treat the infection, and most often will stop gallstones from coming back. Additionally, not having surgery could lead to the possibility of worsening symptoms, infection, or the gallbladder bursting.
Before entering surgery some patients already have scarring on the gallbladder and this can lead to complications. Determining which patients are at risk sooner may be one way to reduce the complication rates of gallbladder surgery. However it is hard for a patient to know if they have a serious gallbladder problem. Ignoring the warning signs or symptoms, such as sharp pain in the upper center or right abdomen, low fever, nausea, and feeling bloated, could lead to more difficult operations in the future.
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