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Desert West Surgery

General & Minimally Invasive Surgeons & Surgical Oncologists located in Las Vegas, NV

A sudden, sharp pain in your upper abdomen could be the first sign of a gallstone attack. When you’re diagnosed with gallstones, surgery to remove the gallbladder is the preferred treatment. The team at Desert West Surgery safely performs gallbladder surgery, often using minimally invasive techniques that get you home the same day. To learn more about gallbladder surgery, call one of the three offices in Las Vegas, Nevada, or schedule an appointment online.

Gallbladder Q & A

What are gallstones?

Your gallbladder stores bile, releasing it through ducts into the small intestine, where it’s essential for digestion. Bile also helps to eliminate waste products through feces.

Bile consists of bile salts, bilirubin, and cholesterol. Gallstones form when cholesterol or bilirubin cluster together and form a solid, hard lump.

Gallstones vary in size and number. They may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. You may develop one large gallstone, hundreds of small stones, or have a mix of large and small.

What symptoms develop due to gallstones?

Your gallstones may not cause any symptoms until they become large enough to block the duct and prevent bile from leaving the gallbladder.

When the duct is blocked, you have a gallbladder attack, which causes symptoms such as:

  • Sudden pain in the upper right abdomen
  • Sudden pain in the center of your abdomen
  • Rapidly intensifying pain
  • Back pain (between the shoulder blades)
  • Pain in your right shoulder
  • Nausea or vomiting

The pain may last several minutes to hours, but if it extends beyond a few hours or you develop a fever or jaundice, seek medical care. Blocked ducts lead to inflammation and infection in the gallbladder, which can become life-threatening.

How are gallstones treated?

The primary treatment for gallstones is a cholecystectomy, or surgery to remove your gallbladder. If you can’t undergo surgery, you may receive medication to dissolve the gallstones. The problem with medication is that the stones usually return, so surgery is the only way to cure the problem.

The doctors at Desert West Surgery perform two types of gallbladder surgery:

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure performed through several small incisions. A laparoscope containing lighting and a video camera is used to send magnified images to a monitor.

With the scope inserted through one incision and long, thin surgical instruments inserted through the others, your surgeon safely removes your gallbladder. Laparoscopic surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, so you’ll go home the same day and you should be back to your normal activities in a week.

Open cholecystectomy

When your gallbladder is inflamed or infected, or scarring in the area prevents a laparoscopy, your surgeon performs open surgery through a 4-6-inch incision. Open surgery requires a longer hospital stay and your recovery may take up to a month.

When you need gallbladder surgery, you can count on the experienced team at Desert West Surgery. Call one of the offices or schedule a consultation online.