Gallbladder & Bile Duct Issues
If you have been diagnosed with gallbladder & bile duct issues, we’re here to help. At The Liver Centre in Perth we offer expert surgery and genuine patient care. This includes clear communication so you can understand the underlying causes of your condition. You can count on our team of specialist liver doctors, experienced surgeons and dietitians to provide you with a personalised care and treatment plan.
Gallstones are a common reason to perform a gallbladder removal so let’s start by situating the gallbladder and its role in the body. The gallbladder is a “sac like” organ, sitting underneath the liver, in the right upper part of the abdomen. It acts as an additional “reservoir” to help the liver store a bodily fluid called bile, which is a dark green to yellow/brown substance produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It helps to break down the fats in the small intestine to help absorption.
When you eat a meal containing fat, the gallbladder contracts and releases bile into the duodenum via the common bile duct. Gallstones and other gallbladder & bile duct issues can disturb this process. Gallstones can cause upper abdominal pain, infections of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), indigestion, abdominal pain, bloating and belching, and in some cases life threatening pancreas inflammation (also known as pancreatitis) or jaundice. If they generate a chronic inflammation in the gallbladder, it can result in the apparition of polyps and eventually cancer.
Gallstones are formed due to an imbalance between the chemical composition in the bile (such as cholesterol and bile salts) once the bile has been concentrated in the gallbladder. The risk factors for getting gallstones include:
- Gender (more common in women)
- Family history
- Rapid weight loss (after obesity surgery)
Most patients with gallstones experience abdominal pain, but other patients may have gallstones without experiencing any problems at all.
If you have been diagnosed with gallstones, it is important to consult with a specialist surgeon at The Liver Centre . They will provide an excellent care experience, keeping you informed about every step of your tests, your diagnosis and your treatment. That’s because we believe you not only deserve the best surgical outcomes, you also deserve comfort, genuine care and support as you experience a health concern.
Cholecystitis is an infection of the gallbladder, often caused by gallstones blocking the cystic duct (a tube leading out of the gallbladder into the main bile duct). The stagnation of the bile leads to the possible infection. Common symptoms of cholecystitis are fever, pain in the right upper part of her abdomen, vomiting or nausea. Serious inflammation needs urgent medical attention.
At The Liver Centre we will be here to help you avoid further complications such as peritonitis or liver abscess. Removing an infected gallbladder is not an easy operation and specialist care is paramount.
Benign gallbladder polyps are often discovered through an abdominal ultrasound, when a “growth” is detected in the lining of the gallbladder wall (known as mucosa).
However, gallbladder polyps found on an ultrasound image can in time become malignant (gallbladder cancer). The risk can be estimated depending on the size and changing features over time that your specialist can see on ultrasound. An operation to remove the gallbladder (which is usually done laparoscopically) may be advised, depending on the assessment of the risk of the polyp to become malignant.
At The Liver Centre , some of Perth’s most experienced surgeons specialising in gallbladder treatment, will assist you with the most convenient treatment options. Our role is also to offer you kindness, care and support during your treatment. So if you have any questions about gallbladder or bile duct issues, contact our friendly staff at our Perth practice and they will book your appointment with our doctors at the earliest convenience, reducing the wait time as much as possible.
Gallbladder cancer appears most often in the elderly. It can be localised to the gallbladder or invade the liver or the main bile duct. Depending on the stage of the cancer the surgery may be just the removal of the gallbladder or the removal of the gallbladder and the liver surrounding it. Sometimes resection of the right side of the liver, the gallbladder and common bile duct is necessary. Chemo and radiotherapy may also be part of the treatment.
All those surgeries and treatments can be organised at The Liver Centre .
What are the consequences of having my gallbladder removed?
It’s important to remember that the gallbladder only acts as additional storage for bile. That’s why gallbladder removal will not cause major impairments to a normal life in the very large majority of patients.
In contrast, patients with symptomatic gallstones will be at risk of more serious or sinister complications from gallstones such as inflammation (cholecystitis), pancreatitis, cholangitis (serious infection or sepsis from stones stuck in the bile ducts), gallbladder polyps and cancer.
Operation via laparoscopic surgery is very safe and patients go home following overnight stay or even sometimes on the same day of the operation (depending on your surgeon’s recommendation).
As a team of experienced health professionals we always aim to organise your surgical treatment plan with your comfort in mind. We believe you don’t just deserve expert surgery; you also deserve support, care, kindness and comfort as you prepare for a surgical procedure that disrupts your everyday life.
Common Bile Duct Stones
Common bile duct stones are also called Choledocholitiasis or “gallstones in the common bile duct”. The “Common Bile Duct” (or CBD) is a very important tube-like structure that allows the flow of bile fluid from both the liver and gallbladder into the duodenum (a segment of small intestine that receives the food after being digested in the stomach).
Gallstones are formed in the gallbladder, but a small percentage of patients will experience gallstones in the common bile duct. The stones normally remain in the gallbladder, but if small enough, could pass through into the common bile duct.
Some patients don’t experience any symptoms, but when a stone obstructs the duct, you may experience abdominal pain, nausea, jaundice, fever, loss of appetite or stools that are clay-coloured. If the stone also obstructs the duct draining the pancreas, it may trigger a pancreatitis.
Treatment for this condition will depend on several factors but the most important one is whether you have sepsis (a life-threatening systemic bacterial infection, or also known as cholangitis). In case of sepsis, it will require admission to hospital for urgent medical treatment with intravenous antibiotics and potentially a procedure such as a ERCP (flexible camera procedure via the mouth; Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography) to remove the stones in the CBD only.
Treatment for bile duct stones may consist of a bile duct exploration or a combined laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) and bile duct exploration.
When you speak to your specialist doctor at The Liver Centre , we will discuss the nature of the pain you experience, and plan the tests that are needed for a thorough diagnosis. Our team will then plan the most comfortable and most suitable treatment for you. Whilst our surgeons focus delivering the best possible surgical outcomes, our whole team is by your side to support you with a caring experience and support.
Choledochal cysts are dilatations of different sections of the main bile duct and in some cases of the intrahepatic bile ducts. These conditions have an increased risk of bile duct cancer and the resection of the dilated portion of the bile duct is recommended. This type of surgery can be performed at The Liver Centre .
Bile contains many components including bilirubin, cholesterol, bile salts, fat, proteins and water. The quality of your diet, and your overall body weight, can help reduce the risk of gallbladder & bile duct issues.
If you have risk factors for gallstone formation, we will assist you with a detailed treatment and care plan at The Liver Centre . It includes guidelines for a healthy diet, high in fibre and with moderate amounts of fat. That’s because a diet too low in fat can actually cause more gallstones.
If your gallbladder has to be removed, your liver still produces bile and you can still digest fat.
Our dietitian will be there to help you, so your nutritional needs are met. The whole team will be by your side before, during and after your surgery, because at The Liver Centre in Perth we believe you deserve genuine care and support as much as expert surgery.