ZocdocAnswersWhen is it time to have one's gallbladder removed?

Question

When is it time to have one's gallbladder removed?

When is the right time to get gallblader removal surgery? I have had chronic problems with gallstones for a lot of my adult life. My doctor hasn't recommended it, but I've been reading about it and feel like maybe this is a good option for me. Is it?

Answer

Gall stones are a very common problem in the U.S. population; studies have shown that approximately 20 percent of adults have at least one stone that can be detected by an ultrasound exam. However, only a small portion of these people will experience symptoms from the stones. Symptoms typically include "biliary colic," which classically manifests as right upper quadrant abdominal pain that is associated with eating. If these symptoms are occurring on a regular basis and are bothersome and interfering with your daily functioning, then you may certainly be a candidate for surgery. You should talk to your primary care physician about your symptoms, and ask if it would be helpful to get a referral to a general surgeon to discuss options. Another indication for gallbladder surgery is pancreatitis secondary to a gallstone getting stuck in the common bile duct. Pancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas, which can be a very painful and serious illness leading to prolonged hospitalizations, infection, and even death. If the episode of pancreatitis resolves with either spontaneous passage of the gallstone or through an intervention, it is recommended that most patients have their gallbladder removed shortly thereafter to prevent such an episode from happening again.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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