Gallbladder surgery coming up this week
To my complete surprise I have gallstones (am a 70+ year old female). My symptoms for 7 months have not been devastating; I could live with them. Only had 2 bad attacks (even they were not tremendous pain) – but they were not fun; others were minor. Problem is, you cannot predict when you will have an attack. I have the symptoms: urine that is pale half the time and medium YELLOW half the time; big pressure in upper quadrant of stomach for several hours here and there (longest was 8 hours); weird and diverse stools and a total change in regularity and amount. I was determined to manage this with diet. I had some success but every professional I speak to says “take it out!!”. Once you start having symptoms it is time to act before it gets worse and gallstone gets stuck in bile duct etc., etc. Their point is it is easy to manage “elective” removal than to have many problems if it develops too far. I object! to losing a body part. But I am going to have the surgery. Here’s the dilemma: Laparoscopic is easy with quick recovery – not invasive. However, you have to agree to having OPEN surgery if they have difficulty or discover something else. This is a more serious surgery, much longer recovery time and I guess more follow-up issues. I am very healthy – so I am disgusted to have to invade my body.
My surgeon is young and says he has a ton of experience in gallbladder and other surgeries. 2 doctors I know recommend him. I feel like I should wait until I am really sick; but, again, the common approach is to take it out once the gallstones start causing problems. What would you do?
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@tennisgolf What does your primary care Dr say? That person knows you best. Is your concern having to agree to open surgery if they have problems, even if they plan for laproscopic? Once you are under anesthesia, they cannot wake you up to ask you to sign consent and then put you back to sleep! So they need to have everything ready to go in case they need to change what they originally plan for. Or you could have someone act as your medical directive for the surgery and then that person would have to make the decision and agreement for open surgery if they came out to him/her in the middle of surgery and said, "there's a problem we need to do an open surgery". You are asking my opinion and of course I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. I think it sounds like they have explained everything to you clearly. If you have any reservations ask your questions of them now. Ask your surgeon if this was his sister or Aunt asking his advice what would he tell them regarding having the surgery. And see how he responds. Good luck to you and please let us know what you decide! We Care!
I had open gallbladder surgery 40 years ago before laparoscopic was used. About 10 years later my husband had the laparoscopic. They won’t know the entire condition of your gall bladder until they start the laparoscope and can see if via the camera. If it looks diseased or inflamed they will opt for the open surgery. I understand your concerns but my opinion is, you don’t have another option. You can control your pain with diet like you have tried but it’s not going to improve and may get worse. You have only had your symptoms for 7 months so chances are you are good for the laparoscope. Recovery from the open surgery is not that bad. I waited 5 years before I had mine done….the gall bladder at that point was packed with stones. I went months between symptoms until they started occurring more frequently. No one likes invasive surgery much less going under anesthesia. Have this done now as an elective surgery. You don’t need the gallbladder anyway and the doctors are right. I’ve known of emergency gallbladder surgery on someone and you don’t want that to happen. If you are basically healthy you’ll be just fine and won’t have to worry about unpredictable pain….stress brings on gallbladder pain also. Come back and tell us what you have decided.
Regards from FL Mary
@tennisgolf I can understand your reluctance to have the more invasive surgery but I have known people who did, including my mother, before they were doing laparoscopic and yes, the recovery was a bit longer but things did work out quite well afterward. The doctor will not do that unless it is necessary so if you are confident of that doctor then you need to let him make that decision when the surgery is taking place. If you are really ambivalent then perhaps you should get a second opinion.
I am a post-liver-transplant patient and when they remove your old liver they take your gallbladder with it and do not replace the gallbladder. Not having a gallbladder has not caused me any problems at all.
@tennisgolf Any kind of operation is worrisome I'm a former O.R. nurse and the Dr,s won't take out your gallbladder unless it can't be done in this way. With stones that are to large or a diseased one. That's why you have to sign a consent if necessary for them to make a larger incision to remove a diseased gallbladder.
There is significant danger in waiting until you get very sick- you are not a good candidate for surgery then, especially if there is an infection too. I had mine out at 47- early laparoscopic days. My daughter had hers out at 19. You have to sign consent for open surgery in case it becomes necessary due to complications.
I am also 70+ and have realized my body is not as tough as it used to be even if my brain says I’m around 35!
Gallbladder issues run in my family as young as 21
My sister is full of stones for years but no issue so they leave them be. Doctors say no issue to leave them alone. I wouldn't wait til u get sicker but your choice of course My niece just had hers out after dealing with a lot of pain etc. my Mom had hers out in her 40’s but no laparoscopic back then. Good luck and hope you will be feeling great very soon.
you will feel so much better with it out and a bad gall bladder can cause so many issues if left in. the lapro surgery is quick and easy and a fast recovery. just wear loose fitting at the waist cloth or lounging dress for a couple week as your belly button is sore as that is where the pull the gall bladder out thru. a few tiny tiny cuts on your belly that dont even require stitches and heal in a week. its s snap. you wont regret it i promise. but if they have to do a large incision due to the stones its still a safe surgery and you heal nicely and you will again feel so much better. i left a bad one in for a few years and it cause so many other issues i regret not finding a doctor to take it out with the first attack,. By waiting to long the gall bladder might develop bile refulx which shoots bile into your belly and you want to talk about being sick ?? its horrible and it will eat the lining of your belly and esophagus trust me it has happened to me and i can barely eat now and cant heal the inside of the belly have erosive gastritis and esophagitis and it destroyed the top 2 muscles in my esophagus and i can hardly swallow any food TRUST me get it out.
I assume that you have had the presence of gallstones confirmed by test/scans. If that is correct, I'd go ahead with the surgery. I've had 2 ultrasounds in the past 2 years because of pain in the gallbladder area but both didn't show any stones. Like you, it's a problem that I could live with. I did decide to change my diet to be more like how I'd have to eat if I didn't have a gallbladder at all. I did learn a lot about gallbladder diseases by doing online research. Now after all this time, my digestive system seems to be working perfectly normal with no pain at all…..if I don't eat something that doesn't agree with it.
Good for you for taking charge of what you eat. Food is medicine when you think of it. Exercise is dessert. Stay healthy.
Regards from FL Mary
Love your post. I just always find it hard to accept ANYTHING is wrong physically because I believe either it is exaggerated by doctors or I alone can overcome it. I will probably go through with the surgery, but I have read about various types of complications or problems. One is that even after gallbladder removal, one can still get gallstones!!!