The surgical process of gallbladder removal is called a Cholecystectomy, and is a relatively common procedure from which the vast majority of patients make a full recovery. However, there are some possible complications to the surgery which can be painful and uncomfortable, and there is also the possibility of surgical negligence, which in extreme cases – as seen in the news in recent months – can lead to life-changing injuries.

Why would you need gallbladder removal surgery?

Fundamentally, the gallbladder is a small organ under the liver and in the abdomen area, which stores digestive juice known as bile, which is a material produced by the liver to help digestion of fatty foods. Surgery may be required to remove the gallbladder for a number of reasons, but the three most common are:

  • Because painful lumps called gallstones have formed
  • Because it has become swollen from an infection
  • Because it has become cancerous

You would normally become aware of a gallbladder problem through experiencing pains in the stomach, which can be constant or only apparent after eating a heavy meal. You may also feel a pain in your back or between the shoulder blades, and in more serious cases can feel nauseous and experience vomiting or a fever. You may also become jaundiced (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).

What types of gallbladder surgery are there?

There are two main types of gallbladder removal surgery:

  • Open/Traditional method – where one incision is made in the stomach around 4-6 inches long through which the gallbladder is removed.
  • Laparoscopic method – where three or four shorter incisions are made and a tiny tube holding a small camera is inserted, and the surgeon removes the gallbladder while looking through a TV monitor. This second method is less invasive and requires a shorter recovery time and hence, is more popular.

A Cholecystectomy procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic and if the Laparoscopic method is used this can be on an outpatients’ basis, whereby you would be discharged from the recovery room once your blood pressure, pulse and breathing are fully stable. If you had the open method or there were reasons to monitor you further, you would be retained in hospital and subsequent checks made, such as monitoring your bowel movements and checks to ensure your incisions were healing properly.

What are the possible complications of gallbladder surgery?

Without the gallbladder to store bile between meals, the small intestine relies on the liver to produce more of the bile it needs in real time. The liver takes some time to react and adjust to this need, so the patient may experience some initial difficulty in digesting certain foods leading to temporary bloating and diarrhoea.

Other problems which may result from gallbladder removal surgery include:

  • Bleeding and infection
  • Blood clots
  • Injury to the bile duct
  • Liver injury
  • Scars and a numb feeling around incisions
  • Fever or chills
  • Jaundice – a yellowing of the skin
  • Abdominal pain and cramp
  • No bowel movements

These can be experienced as a natural by-product of the surgery, or in rare cases where the surgeon has made an error during surgery. Clips are used to seal the tubes connecting the gallbladder to the bile ducts, and if the clips don’t seal properly the patient can experience bile leakage. A bile duct injury and injury to nearby blood vessels, liver or intestines can also result in additional surgery being required.

Claiming for gallbladder removal surgical negligence

In January 2020, it was reported that a surgeon at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Camilo Valero, was responsible for three botched gallbladder removal operations in just five days. These included patients having other organs removed as well as the gallbladder, including the bile duct. This resulted in patients variously experiencing life-changing injuries, infertility and an inability to control bowel movements.

In such extreme circumstances, patients are of course entitled to seek suitable compensation for their pain, stress and suffering, and claims for gallbladder surgery can be processed through the clinical negligence department of Ison Harrison. Our team has specialist expertise in understanding the nature and complexity of these claims and can deal with your complaints in a professional and compassionate manner to secure the compensation that you deserve.

If you have experienced problems with gallbladder surgery which you think could have been caused by surgical negligence, call our team today on 0113 284 5000.

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