Learn about gallbladder surgery and understand your options
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Your gallbladder is a small organ that stores bile, a digestive juice your liver produces to break down fat in food. After you eat, the gallbladder releases stored bile into your small intestine through narrow tubes called ducts. Gallbladders can become inflamed (called cholecystitis) and ducts can be blocked, often because of small hard masses called gallstones that form, producing symptoms that range from mild discomfort to intense pain.
Understanding your options
To reduce your risk of inflammation of the gallbladder and blockage of the ducts, your doctor may recommend making adjustments to your diet, such as reducing fat intake.1 Options for an inflamed gallbladder may include fasting, fluids through a vein in your arm, antibiotics, and pain medications.2
Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the gallstones, or even to remove your gallbladder.
Surgeons can perform gallbladder removal surgery, called a cholecystectomy, through open surgery, which requires a large incision in your abdomen, or a minimally invasive approach. Today most gallbladder surgeries are performed through minimally invasive surgery1 using a laparoscopic approach or robotic-assisted surgery, possibly with da Vinci® technology.
Doctors perform minimally invasive laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgeries through a few small incisions or a single small incision near the belly button. To remove the gallbladder with laparoscopic surgery, doctors use special long-handled tools while viewing magnified images from the laparoscope (camera) on a video screen.
How da Vinci works
Surgeons using da Vinci technology can remove your gallbladder through either a few small incisions (cuts) or through one small incision in your belly button using Single-Site® technology. During surgery, your surgeon sits at a console next to you and operates using tiny instruments.
A camera provides a high-definition, 3D magnified view inside your body. Every hand movement your surgeon makes is translated by the da Vinci system in real time to bend and rotate the instruments with precision.
It’s important to remember that Intuitive does not provide medical advice. After discussing all options with your doctor, only you and your doctor can determine whether surgery with da Vinci is appropriate for your situation. You should always ask your surgeon about his or her training, experience, and patient outcomes.
Why surgery with da Vinci?
Robotic-assisted surgery with a da Vinci system gives surgeons access to technology features that include:
- A high-definition 3D camera system with high magnification that provides immersive viewing of the gallbladder and surrounding area.
- Firefly® fluorescence imaging which offers visualization beyond the human eye by activating injected dye to light up and clearly show the gallbladder and surrounding structures, including the ducts.
- Da Vinci Single-Site® technology, which allows surgeons to make just one incision near the belly button, providing patients with nearly scarless results.
All surgery involves risk. You can read more about associated risks of cholecystectomy here.
Questions you can ask your doctor
- What medical options are available for my gallbladder pain?
- What happens if I don’t get surgery?
- What are the differences between open, laparoscopic, and robotic-assisted surgery?
- Can you tell me about your training, experience, and patient outcomes with da Vinci?
- How will I feel after surgery?
More about general surgery with da Vinci
Robotic-assisted surgery with da Vinci technology is used in many different types of procedures by general surgeons.
1. Gallbladder Removal Surgery (Cholecystectomy) Patient Information from SAGES. SAGES. Web. 21 January 2019
2. Cholecystitis Diagnosis & Treatment. Mayo Clinic. Web. 21 January 2019
3. Gallbladder, Cholecystectomy, Open. StatPearls. Web. 14 January 2019
Disclosures and Important Safety Information
Risks associated with cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) include injury to the common bile duct (tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine), leaking bile, inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis), retained stones in the common bile duct.
Important Safety Information
Patients should talk to their doctor to decide if da Vinci® surgery is right for them. Patients and doctors should review all available information on non-surgical and surgical options and associated risks in order to make an informed decision.
Serious complications may occur in any surgery, including da Vinci surgery, up to and including death. Serious risks include, but are not limited to, injury to tissues and organs and conversion to other surgical techniques which could result in a longer operative time and/or increased complications. For Important Safety Information, including surgical risks, indications, and considerations and contraindications for use, please also refer to www.intuitive.com/safety.
Individuals' outcomes may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to patient characteristics, disease characteristics and/or surgeon experience.
Da Vinci Xi® System Precaution Statement
The demonstration of safety and effectiveness for the specific procedure(s) discussed in this material was based on evaluation of the device as a surgical tool and did not include evaluation of outcomes related to the treatment of cancer (overall survival, disease-free survival, local recurrence) or treatment of the patient’s underlying disease/condition. Device usage in all surgical procedures should be guided by the clinical judgment of an adequately trained surgeon.
Medical Advice and Locating a Doctor
Patients should talk to their doctor to decide if da Vinci surgery is right for them. Other options may be available and appropriate. Only a doctor can determine whether da Vinci surgery is appropriate for a patient’s situation. Patients and doctors should review all available information on both non-surgical and surgical options in order to make an informed decision.
Surgeons who perform surgery using the da Vinci system can be found using the Surgeon Locator. Intuitive Surgical provides surgeons with training on the use of the da Vinci system but does not certify, credential or qualify the surgeons listed in the Surgeon Locator.
In order to provide benefit and risk information, Intuitive Surgical reviews the highest available level of evidence on procedures named above. Intuitive Surgical strives to provide a complete, fair and balanced view of the clinical literature. However, our materials should not be seen as a substitute for a comprehensive literature review for inclusion of all potential outcomes. We encourage patients and physicians to review the original publications and all available literature in order to make an informed decision. Clinical studies are typically available at pubmed.gov.