With gallstone disease, patients usually present with pain in the right upper part of the abdomen, which is intermittent in nature and usually worse after eating certain food groups. In that instance, an ultrasound scan of the abdomen will be required, to see if you have gallstones.
If the ultrasound scan picks up gallstones – and your symptoms are suggestive of them, management options would include dietary modifications, such as following a low fat diet or surgery. Ultimately, the definitive treatment would be an operation to remove the gall bladder along with the gallstones.
Before the operation – a laparoscopic cholecystectomy – some basic blood tests may be needed, including liver function tests, to make sure that the stones are within the gall bladder and none have slipped out into the bile duct.
If it looks like the stones are in the bile duct, patients may need some additional imaging and intervention before their gall bladder is taken out.
Gallbladder surgery is usually performed laparoscopically (keyhole) and patients visit Albyn Hospital on the day of gallbladder surgery.
The operation takes about an hour or so, and if everything is straightforward, they usually return home later that day.
With regard to recovery, patients are usually back driving and return to desk-based jobs within two weeks.