Did you know that Cholecystectomy – or the removal of the gallbladder – is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States each year? Historically, gallbladder removals were performed by making a large incision, or cut, just under the rib cage on the patient’s right side. But, in 1985, the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy (or gallbladder removal) was performed by German surgeon Erich Muehe. Due to this medical breakthrough, by 1992 nearly 90% of all gallbladder surgeries in America were performed laparoscopically. This new, minimally-invasive surgery eventually evolved into a very safe procedure that has decreased postoperative pain and recovery times for patients following gallbladder removal.
So what exactly is laparoscopic surgery? This surgical technique is defined by using a small camera inserted through the abdominal musculature to view the inside of the abdominal area. The use of a large incision for exposure thus became unnecessary. Instead several small incisions, usually about a half-inch in size, are used to perform the same operation. For example, a typical laparoscopic gallbladder procedure is performed by using one small incision at the belly button and two to three additional small incisions just under the rib cage on the patient’s right side. The gallbladder is then dissected free of its attachments and removed from the abdomen using one of those small incisions (typically from the cut around the belly button).
Single incision laparoscopic surgery, called SILS for short, is a newer technique that has been developed for removing gallbladders. It requires only a single, small incision that can be hidden in the belly button. By reducing the number of incisions, this technique can potentially lower pain after surgery even more and offers a more cosmetic outcome by eliminating the scars typically seen just under the rib cage.
So who is a candidate to have gallbladder removal via SILS? SILS is usually only performed on individuals whose gallbladder disease is from gallstones or from a gallbladder that is no longer functioning correctly. This procedure is not recommended for treating people with an infected gallbladder (cholecystitis). The ideal candidate should also be of average weight and body type and should not have a history of multiple prior abdominal operations. Unfortunately, SILS is typically not performed on people with morbid obesity because of the technical and anatomic challenges presented.
If you are suffering from gallbladder disease and would like to have a consultation to see if you are a candidate for the new SILS, please contact McDowell Surgical Services or have your primary care physician send us a referral at (828) 659-5700.
Dr. Daniel McLaughlin is a General Surgeon located at McDowell Surgical Services in the Medical Park. Prior to joining McDowell Surgical Services, he worked at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Daniel McLaughlin joins Dr. William Horan and Dr. Bob Morrow.
For more information on General Surgery services offered, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. McLaughlin, call 828-659-5700 today.