While most patients with gallbladder disease have relatively normal liver function blood tests, some do not. Depending on the results, this can indicate a blockage of the common bile duct. The joining of the hepatic duct and cystic duct form the common bile duct. This area can become blocked by gallstones. Ideally, the patient will undergo endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) if choledocolithiasis or bilary stones are suspected. Sometimes, this procedure is not available. Other times, the biliary stones are recognized at the time of cholecystectomy. In these cases, a common bile duct exploration may be prudent. This can be performed in a laparoscopic or open fashion.
During the procedure pictures are taken with radiographic dye to determine where stones are blocking the duct. A small balloon catheter can be used to help remove the stones blocking the duct. This can also be performed with forceps. Occasionally, a special camera is used for better visualization of the blocked area. To confirm the stones have been removed, the area is again visualized with radiographic dye. At this juncture if the duct is clear, the surgeon can finish the cholecystectomy.
For the most part, patient recovery is tied to the initial procedure. Patients who undergo a laparscopic procedure can likely be discharged the same day or the day after the procedure if they had cholecystitis. For those patients undergoing an open procedure they usually require several days in the hospital prior to discharge. Patients can resume normal activities when they are no longer taking narcotics and can move without soreness.
Dr. Jenna Kazil is an esteemed double board-certified general and vascular surgeon who is affiliated with hospitals in Hillsborough, Manatee, Osceola, and Sarasota counties who sees patients at Florida Surgical Clinic located in Bradenton, FL. Dr. Kazil is a great surgical specialist who not only is a general surgeon but a vascular surgeon who has the expertise necessary to perform these procedures with the high-quality results every patient deserves. Contact her office today to schedule an appointment.