Some physicians believe that gallbladder polyps can herald the beginning of gallbladder cancer. There are just as many, however, who do not agree, since that connection is extremely rare. Polyps on the gallbladder are nodules that protrude from the organ lining. While some polyps are actually tumors, which can be either benign or cancerous, others are cholesterol deposits that stick to the organ wall. Treatment option depends upon the type of polyp identified.
Laparoscopic Gall Bladder Surgery
Polyps less than one centimeter in size are not usually cancerous and can be removed through laparoscopic surgery. This involves making small incisions into the abdomen through which carbon dioxide is pumped to extend the surgeon’s viewing area. Several laparoscopic video devices are eased into the incisions and hooked to a video monitor to show the operative area. Polyps can be removed without additional surgery unless cancer is identified.
Laparoscopic surgery is a popular choice because it is safer than open surgery, the post-operative pain level is lower, recovery time is shorter, and a quick return to normal activity is anticipated. It can often be performed on an outpatient basis.
Cholescystecomy (Gall Bladder Removal)
Polyps larger than one centimeter in size are often cancerous. In some cases, the cancer spreads from the lining into the gallbladder and beyond. In such instances removal of all the affected area is necessary by surgical cholescystecomy. While in some cases that is sufficient treatment, in others chemotherapy follow-up may be required.
A cholescystecomy is open surgery requiring a two- to four-inch incision in the upper abdomen of the right side. The tissue surrounding the organ and the lymph glands are sent to the lab for biopsy until all of the cancer is believed to be removed from the area.
What to Expect Before, During and After Surgery
A physical exam and x-rays are required before surgery. Once they are complete, the surgeon will outline the procedure to be used and answer your questions.
Colon cleansing is usually required, and patients may be instructed to follow a strict diet for several days prior to the procedure. The surgeon may halt use of anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners, diet pills, St. John’s Wort and vitamin E. Patients will be asked to shower prior to surgery, using antibacterial soap.
During surgery patients are given a hospital gown to wear, and the the surgical area is sterilized. An IV is started to keep the body hydrated and to provide a mechanism through which medications can be injected if necessary. An anesthesiologist will administer anesthesia and monitor the patient throughout surgery.
After surgery, incisions are stitched or stapled closed, and a sterile dressing is applied. Outpatient clients will be allowed to go home once anesthesia has worn off and vital signs return to normal. Hospital patients can expect one or two days in inpatient care.