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Gallbladder Disease - Medical Malpractice
Gallbladder disease can mean you have a stone in your gallbladder or it can mean you have cholecystitis or gall bladder cancer. Cholecystitis is an infection of the gallbladder that can occur when stones block the gallbladder duct. Gallbladder disease can be difficult to diagnose because it mimics other diseases and sometimes has few symptoms. Doctors need to keep the index of suspicion for gallbladder disease any time there is abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or even chest pain.
The gallbladder is a small sac found beneath the liver. It collects bile acids made in the liver and stores it for when you are eating a meal. When you are eating a particularly fatty meal, the gallbladder contracts and sends out bile acids to the duodenum in order to digest the fats and other nutrients. Without bile acids, fats are not absorbed well and fatty vitamins are not absorbed and there can be nutritional problems.
There exist different types of gallbladder disease including the most popular, acute cholecystitis. This is the sudden onset of abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, as a result of sudden blockage of the gallbladder outlet due to gall stones. The gallbladder is inflamed and infected and the person experiences sudden symptoms. Gallstones can also be present without any inflammation of the gallbladder if they don't block the outlet of the bladder. There can be acalculous cholecystitis, which is a condition of cholecystitis without any gallstones. The gallbladder simply doesn't empty very well. Serious infections or abscesses can occur in the gallbladder and the gallbladder can be gangrenous. You can have polyps or tumours of the gallbladder that can obstruct the gallbladder and can cause it to fail to be able to empty properly. Gallbladder or bile duct cancer is very severe with a low survival rate.
Acute cholecystitis is the sudden onset of abdominal pain and is due to gallstones in ninety percent of cases. It can also be caused by polyps or tumours of the gallbladder. Bile is trapped inside the gallbladder and it becomes large or boggy. The problem occurs mostly in women but can occur in men and is at a highest rate during the middle ages of the women. The highest rate occurs in Native American women.
The main symptoms of acute cholecystitis include chest or abdominal pain that may be a dull pain or a sharp and cramping pain. There may also be a pain that comes and goes, spreading to the back, chest or right shoulder. It often occurs within minutes of having a large or fatty meal. Related symptoms include fullness in the abdomen, clay coloured stools, nausea and vomiting or even jaundice of the eyes or skin. There may be tenderness in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, tenderness in other parts of the abdomen or abnormalities of the liver enzymes, lipase, bilirubin, amylase or CBC.
Doctors can use imaging tests to see if there is acute cholecystitis, including an abdominal ultrasound, plain film of the abdomen or CT scan of the abdomen or MRI scan can be done to show thickness of the gallbladder wall and sometimes enlargement of the gallbladder sac. A cholecystogram can outline the gallbladder and can show evidence of acute cholecystitis.
You should see a doctor if you suspect you have acute cholecystitis or other gallbladder disease. You will receive IV fluids and IV antibiotics to settle down the inflammation of the gallbladder. Acute cholecystitis can resolve on its own or it may need surgery. The surgery is known as a cholecystectomy. A cholecystectomy can be done via an open procedure through and incision in the right upper quadrant. It can also be done using a laparoscope and several small incisions. The gallbladder can be removed via the tiny laparoscope and there is an easier recovery time. Sometimes antibiotics are given first and then the cholecystectomy is done when the inflammation of the gallbladder has settled down. Emergency surgery is done for perforations or gangrene of the gallbladder.
Complications of having cholecystitis include having pus in the gallbladder. This needs to be removed before the gallbladder is removed. You can also get pancreatitis, injury to the bile ducts, and gangrene of the gallbladder. Peritonitis of the body can occur if the gallbladder leaks or becomes gangrenous.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here