Over 1/2 million people in America have their gallbladders removed every year. This is called cholecystectomy. Is it necessary?
The gallbladder is connected to the liver and to the small intestine. The liver manufactures bile and sends it to the gallbladder, which stores it until you need it. When you eat, particularly when you eat heavy, fatty or greasy foods, the gallbladder squeezes bile out into the small intestine to help with digestion. For reasons that are complex, stones sometimes form in the gallbladder. A stone can become trapped in a duct and prevent the gallbladder from emptying, and then you have an attack of pain. The gallbladder can also become infected, a condition we call cholecystitis, and that causes pain as well.
The most frequently asked question I receive on this is: “I have had my gallbladder removed. Why do I still have pain?”
If you think of your problem as a biliary (bile) problem as opposed to a “gallbladder” problem you are more on the right track to understanding how to take care of it. Removing the gallbladder does not always address the problem in the body that is causing these symptoms. In order to break down and digest fats, your body must produce bile, which is done in the liver. Your gallbladder is merely a sac for holding some of the bile that the liver produces. Whether or not you have had your gallbladder removed, your liver is still producing bile in order to digest fats. Without the gallbladder, however, the bile is not as readily secreted in the body, and the liver can become overwhelmed when faced with large amounts of any fats, especially saturated fats and hydrogenated fats. And for some people even small amounts of fats can cause discomfort.
One of the side effects of gallbladder removal can be the dumping of bile which is now not as easily regulated and can send someone running to the bathroom immediately after eating. A more common side effect is a decrease in the secretion of bile. If the bile produced by the liver becomes thick and sluggish, painful symptoms and bile stones can occur. Bile stones can form in the liver as well as the gallbladder. One woman had her gallbladder removed only to end up back in surgery again two or three days later where they found stones in the bile ducts of the liver causing her alot of pain.
Get a second opinion. You do have an option of cleaning up your diet, doing some work on your gallbladder and liver and keeping the body part that God gave you. If you happen to think that nature made a mistake and that you don’t need it anyway, you probably wouldn’t be reading this page in the first place.
The most common problems, apart from actual pain are impaired digestion: bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. You are/were already having trouble digesting fats. So why would removing the organ that regulates the metabolizer of fats improve your digestion? It may help with the pain, but know that 34% of people who have their gallbladder removed still experience some abdominal pain.
The easiest way to avoid this is to take an external supplement of bile salts to help your body with the digestion of fats. And do a series of mini gallbladder flushes.
After Gallbladder Removal Syndrome may include all of the above symptoms plus indigestion, nausea, vomiting and constant pain in the upper right abdomen. Sound familiar? You’re right — gallbladder attack symptoms. Up to 40% of people who undergo gallbladder surgery will experience these symptoms for months or years after surgery. How is this possible? You no longer have a gallbladder and that was the problem, right? Look to the whole biliary tract. Now that the gallbladder is no longer present to act as a reservoir for bile, the common bile duct may expand as the bile backs up in the bile duct between the sphincter or muscular opening at the small intestine and the liver from which it flows. If it drips constantly into the small intestine this can cause problems of a different kind. However, this syndrome with accompanying pain appears to have the flow of bile obstructed by either a narrowing of the sphincter or a malfunction of the sphincter. Abdominal pain, nausea, gas, bloating, and diarrhea are common following surgery.
“Functional biliary pain in the absence of gallstone disease is a definite entity and a challenge for clinicians.” which is to say that at this point in time, they don’t really know what to do with gallbladder problems that aren’t related to gallstones (2) and “Often, following cholecystectomy, biliary pain does not resolve…” (2) which means after gallbladder surgery you may just be stuck with the pain.
So in conclusion, your best bet may be to try and fix what is wrong if that is possible, before taking it out. Sometimes, that is just not possible.
Granny, MH, HHC