For most people gallstones never cause any symptoms and so don't need to be treated. However, gallstones can be very painful and cause other problems in which case you may benefit from surgical treatment. A number of our consultant general surgeons specialise in the treatment of gallstones at Springfield Hospital.
- We can arrange for you to see a consultant surgeon within 72 hours or at a time to suit you.
- Any diagnostic scans or blood tests can usually take place in the same appointment.
- We can usually offer treatment even if you don’t meet the criteria required for NHS surgery.
- We have little or no wait for surgery.
- A GP referral is always helpful as it will provide your consultant with useful information, but you can usually self-refer without one.
Phone us on 01245 234040 to book an appointment.
Here Mr Jayanthi, Consultant General Surgeon at Springfield Hospital, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about gallstones and their treatment.
What are the symptoms of gallstones?
Symptoms can vary from non specific indigestion to severe abdominal pain, jaundice and life threatening conditions like pancreatitis and infection of the liver.
Typical pain from gallstones comes in the top or the right side of the abdomen and can go through to the back. Typically, this pain comes after eating and more so is set off after eating fatty food. Patients double up in pain and can have nausea and vomiting. Some women liken the pain to labour pains.
Gallstones can also present with atypical symptoms such as discomfort, chest pains and indigestion.
Gallstones can move and enter the bile duct (the pipe carrying bile from the liver to the bowel). The gallbladder is like a branch of the bile duct. When the gallstones enter the bile duct, they can irritate the pancreas gland and lead to a potentially life threatening condition called pancreatitis. Stones in the bile duct can also cause obstruction of the bile duct and lead to jaundice and sometimes life threatening infection of the liver.
Would I benefit from gallbladder surgery?
Anyone with gallstone related symptoms will benefit from the removal of the gallbladder. Just removing the stones will not resolve the issue as the problem is the gallbladder. If the gallstones are removed, the gallbladder will make more. Therefore, the gallbladder is the source of the trouble and needs to be removed.
All patients who suffered from jaundice or pancreatitis from gallstones benefit from this operation.
What is gallbladder surgery?
Gallbladder surgery is called laparoscopic cholecystectomy or commonly referred to as ‘lap chole’. This is commonly performed via keyhole surgery and as day case operation. The surgery involves general anaesthetic and removal of the gallbladder.
If the gallstones have moved into the bile duct, there are two options of treatment. The choice is between a two stage or one stage treatment. In the first option, bile duct stones are removed before or after gallbladder surgery. The second option involves obtaining an x-ray of the bile ducts at the time of the operation. If there are any stones in the bile duct, these stones can be removed at the same time. Mr Jayanthi specialises in one stage treatment of bile duct stones.
When should I seek referral?
All symptomatic gallstones should be considered for surgery. The later the presentation, the more risky the surgery gets. Therefore, patients should seek referral sooner rather than later. Anyone that develops jaundice or pancreatitis from gallstones must seek an urgent referral. Appointments are available within 72 hours at Springfield Hospital.
How long would I stay in hospital?
This operation is commonly done as a day case. You come in on the day of the operation, have the operation and go home the same day. You will be discharged with adequate pain medication. If bile duct stones have to be removed at the same time, you may have to stay in the hospital for longer.
When can I return to work?
This depends on the kind of work you do. Generally, you shouldn’t drive for a couple of weeks and shouldn't lift heavy weights for up to four weeks after the surgery. All patients are, however, expected to get up and about after surgery soon after recovering from the anaesthetic. The exact time off work will be discussed at your initial consultation.
Why should I choose Springfield for my surgery?
Springfield Hospital has some of the most advanced equipment for this surgery. It is one of the very few private hospital to have the special fine scope used to retrieve gallstones from the bile duct (see above). Mr Jayanthi offers treatment of stones in the bile duct at the same time of gallbladder surgery, instead of returning for another procedure.