Liver Problems After Cholecystectomy

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While a cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery) may help solve problems an individual has with recurring gallstones or other complications that arise due to the gallbladder, the removal of the gallbladder can also create new problems, especially with the liver. These problems can include bile buildup, liver weakening, anemia and even stone formation.

Cholecystectomy

  • Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy is the removal of an organ that sits in the upper right-hand side of the abdomen. The gallbladder is responsible for the collection and storage of bile produced in the liver, as well as the secretion of it into the intestines for digestion purposes. The gallbladder can be removed without threat to life; however, its removal does affect the liver after surgery, as well as the production and storage of bile and the digestive process.

Liver and Bile Relation

  • Once the gallbladder has been removed from the body, the liver is now responsible for storing the bile it produces and for secreting that bile into the intestines to aid digestion. But unlike the gallbladder, the liver does not secrete the bile as frequently into the intestines. Therefore, the flow of bile into the intestines slows down, affecting food metabolism by causing indigestion, diarrhea or constipation. This, in turn, affects the overall health of the body, including the liver.

Liver Congestion and Bile Backup

  • As bile secretions slow down and begin to accumulate in the liver, the liver itself becomes congested. This weakens the liver and affects its ability to function, as well as that of the spleen and pancreas.

Liver Stone Formation

  • In addition, backup of bile in the liver enables crystallization of bile to form (both in the liver and in the bloodstream). This is due to the bile and cholesterol within the liver becoming too concentrated when left to sit in the liver too long. Thus, gallstones that formed in the gallbladder before the cholecystectomy now form in the liver instead.

Weakened Liver

  • Just as a weakened liver can cause stone formation due to bile buildup in the liver, the excess bile sent by the liver into the bloodstream can cause resulting skin rashes and itchy skin. In addition, a weakened liver cannot recycle worn-out red blood cells that are returned to it for that purpose, resulting in possible anemia. So as the body suffers from a lack of red blood cells---and the subsequent anemia that causes---overall body health (as well as liver health) suffers, too.

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