Smaller incisions = shorter recovery
Most people don't think about their gallbladders -
until an attack sends them to the emergency room.
And, until the gallbladder is removed, symptoms only
continue or get worse.
"Today's gold standard for gallbladder removal is
minimally invasive surgery (MIS)," says Virtua general
surgeon Sanjay Kumar, MD. "This technique provides
immediate symptom relief and helps people recover
from major abdominal surgery in just weeks."
What is the gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located
below the liver. The liver produces bile, which helps
the body digest fats. The gallbladder stores bile and
releases it into the small intestine to aid digestion.
Substances in the bile can harden and deposit in the
gallbladder forming stones as small as pebbles or large
as golf balls. Symptoms often start when these gallstones
obstruct the flow of bile out of the gallbladder.
"Patients usually only find pain relief when the gallbladder
and gallstones are removed," says Dr. Kumar.
Removed through a half-inch incision
"Minimally invasive gallbladder surgery requires about
two to three quarter-inch incisions and one half-inch
incision," says Dr. Kumar. "Each incision allows the
surgeon to insert and manipulate surgical tools like a
laparoscope, which is a special camera that provides a
magnified view of the patient's organs; forceps for
grasping and holding tissues; and scissors to separate
and remove the gallbladder," he says.
Before the gallbladder is removed from the body,
it's placed into a plastic bag and sealed. This helps
prevent infection as the organ is removed through
one of the small incisions.
"On average, minimally invasive gallbladder surgery
takes 30 to 45 minutes, and patients go home the same
day," says Dr. Kumar. "While each patient is different,
most recover from the surgery within one to two days
and resume activities like work, driving and exercise
Dr. Kumar notes that as surgeons refine their
techniques, more gallbladder surgeries may be done through two incisions or even one. "This
technique requires a slightly larger incision, but
leaves a patient virtually scar-free."