Cholecystectomy: Removal of the Gallbladder
The gallbladder is a small organ that is part of the human digestive system. It secretes bile, an enzyme that breaks down fats in food. Sometimes the gallbladder cannot work effectively, and instead of breaking down fats it begins to form lumps known as gallstones. When this happens, removal of the gallbladder – known as a cholecystectomy – may be necessary.
Traditional vs. laparoscopic cholecystectomy
Traditional cholecystectomy involved making a major incision and dislodging the liver in order to remove the gall bladder. This procedure was risky and required several days in the hospital as well as more than a month of recovery time.
The modern alternative, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, was developed in 1989. This procedure involves the insertion of a camera in a tube through the navel. Several small incisions are made, and the surgeon, guided by the camera, uses tiny instruments to cut the ducts and arteries that hold the gallbladder inside the body. When performed correctly, laparoscopic cholecystectomy poses less risk to the patient’s liver, reduces hospital stays, and cuts recovery time to less than a month. But laparoscopic cholecystectomy is an intricate and difficult procedure. Accidentally cutting or clipping the wrong duct or artery could have disastrous results for the patient.
Doctors performing laparoscopic cholecystectomy without proper experience
The best way for gallbladder patients to prevent complications from laparoscopic cholecystectomy is to choose a doctor who has performed many procedures. The National Institutes of Health became so concerned about the rate of patient injuries following laparoscopic cholecystectomy that a conference was convened to examine the issue. The conference found that training for laparoscopic cholecystectomy has been so irregular that an alarming number of doctors are not sufficiently competent to perform the procedure safely. Doctors with fewer than 25 procedures under their belts were more likely to identify the wrong duct or artery to cut and cause damage to the patient.
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy complications can be life-threatening
Because the gallbladder is situated close to many other vital organs (most prominently the liver), it is paramount that the surgeon performs the surgery correctly without cutting, clipping, or puncturing any other organs. When complications occur, they can include:
- Liver failure
- Infection or inflammation of the bile ducts causing digestive and liver problems
- Damage to the liver, the intestines, or other nearby organs
- Damage to the common bile duct, causing bile to enter the bloodstream or the abdominal cavity, thereby poisoning the patient
If the hepatic (liver) system is disrupted, or if the common bile duct is damaged, the patient is placed in a life-threatening situation that can swiftly degenerate to liver failure and even death. Emergency surgery is often required to correct complications of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and, even when it is successful, the patient may be sentenced to a life with permanent pain and impaired digestive function.
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy malpractice lawsuits
The consequences of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy gone wrong can be devastating. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a doctor’s negligence, you may have a case for medical malpractice. We can help. Please call our experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers at 1-877-737-4806, or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!