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What Causes Post Gallbladder Surgery Pain?

A healthy gallbladder and one with gallstones.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In most cases, having the gallbladder removed puts an end to the pain the patient has been experiencing, although occasionally post gallbladder surgery pain becomes an issue. This usually consists of shoulder pain due to the gas that is introduced into the abdomen during surgery and typically resolves on its own within 72 hours of the procedure. There may be some localized pain or discomfort at the surgical site, but this tends to last only a few days as well. Persistent post surgery pain may be due to more serious medical issues such as bile leakage, missed stones, or a condition known as post-cholecystectomy syndrome.

During laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, the most commonly performed type of surgery used to remove this organ, gas is introduced into the abdomen in order to move other organs out of the way and help the surgeon to see the surgical area more clearly. This can sometimes cause a few days of post gallbladder surgery pain involving the abdomen and right shoulder. If the pain lasts longer than a week or becomes severe, a doctor should be consulted for further evaluation.

Post gallbladder surgery pain involving the surgical site is to be expected and lasts for only a few days for most patients. Physical activity should be limited while the surgical wounds heal. Intense pain or signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or fever should be reported to a doctor. Proper hygiene and wound care can often prevent infection from developing after having the gallbladder removed.

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Occasionally, a gallstone may become lodged in the bile ducts and be missed during the surgical procedure. In other situations, bile may leak into the abdominal cavity after the gallbladder is removed. Each of these conditions can cause post gallbladder surgery pain and often require the use of additional surgical procedures.

Post-cholecystectomy syndrome may occur following gallbladder removal and is the leading cause of persistent post gallbladder surgery pain. This condition can cause the patient to feel similar pain as before the gallbladder was removed, although the reason for the development of this syndrome are not clearly understood. Chronic nausea, diarrhea, and weight changes are common among those with post-cholecystectomy syndrome. Any troublesome symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor in order to make sure that no serious complications have developed.

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