Generally speaking, the primary diseases of the gallbladder are referred to as either cholecystitis or cholelithiasis.
Cholelithiasis refers to the formation of gallstones either within the gallbladder or in the biliary passages. The formation of gallstones often results in severe and sometimes debilitating pain that may be associated with the partial or complete blockage of the flow of bile from the liver to the gallbladder.
Cholecystitis generally refers to an inflammation of the gallbladder that may also be associated with infection. Cholecystitis is also associated with severe and sometimes debilitating pain that may radiate from the abdomen up to the shoulder.
A cholecystectomy refers to the surgical removal of the diseased gallbladder.
There are two primary surgical procedures for the removal of the diseased gallbladder.
In what is typically referred to as a conventional or open cholecystectomy, a surgical incision is made in the abdomen, typically adjacent to the lower rib cage, through which the diseased gallbladder can be excised and removed.
In contrast to an open cholecystectomy, a laparoscopic cholecystectomy involves the insertion of a miniature, cylindrical camera through a small incision in the abdominal wall. This permits the surgeon to visualize the gallbladder and related internal organs on a video monitor or screen.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery also involves the use of miniaturized surgical instruments which are typically introduced through the abdominal wall and are utilized to both excise and then remove the diseased gallbladder.
The primary advantage of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy is that the minimally invasive nature of the surgery typically enhances post-operative recovery, both in terms of reducing post-operative pain and the time necessary for the patient to resume normal activities.
Because of these potential advantages, laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery is estimated to be utilized in approximately 80 to 90 percent of all surgical procedures for the removal of the gallbladder.
While laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedures are generally felt to be associated with fewer serious complications than open cholecystectomies, when performed by an inexperienced or otherwise negligent surgeon, a laparoscopic cholecystectomy can lead to potentially devastating and even fatal consequences.
Frequently, the inexperienced or poorly trained surgeon will cut or otherwise damage the common bile duct. In many cases, the careless or unsafe surgeon will mistakenly identify the common bile duct for the cystic duct, leading to a potentially devastating injury to the common bile duct.
Common bile duct injuries caused by a careless surgeon while performing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure have been associated with many severe complications, including damage to other organs and even death.
In many instances, the negligent or poorly trained surgeon will fail promptly to recognize and treat infections which may be associated with an improperly performed laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure. If unrecognized and untreated, such intra-abdominal infections can lead to potentially fatal consequences.
The Law Firm of Dugan, Babij, Tolley & Kohler, LLC has extensive experience in representing families whose loved ones have been injured or died as a result of medical malpractice associated with negligently performed laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedures.