A discussion on gallbladder problems

Written by: Mr Ahmed Hamouda
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

When there is disruption in the gallbladder, it can disrupt the balance of our digestive processes, leading to pain, discomfort and health issues. Here to explain more about the symptoms, surgery and associated risks is distinguished consultant upper GI and bariatric surgeon Mr Ahmed Hamouda.




What are the symptoms of common gallbladder problems?


The most common gall bladder problem is the formation of crystals, which enlarge and become stones. Bile is stored in the gall bladder and is then released in response to hormonal signals when we start eating food.


The presence of gall stones and/or infection of the gall bladder can result in discomfort going to the back or shoulder on the right side, bloating and nausea after a meal when the gall bladder attempts to contract in the presence of stones or infection.


Can gallstones be treated without surgery?


There are some suggestions that they can be dissolved by special diets or medication. However, in reality, this never works. Gall stones cannot be zapped or lasered to make them smaller, unlike kidney stones, as this runs the risk of them moving into the main channel and becoming trapped leading to jaundice, pancreatitis or cholangitis.


What dietary changes are recommended for managing gallbladder issues?


The recommendation is to follow a low-fat diet. Bile stored in the gall bladder aids in the digestion of fats and serves as the primary trigger for its contraction. To prevent irritation to the gall bladder, it is recommended to maintain a diet with significantly reduced fat content.



What are the risks associated with gallbladder surgery?


Gallbladder surgery poses the same risks as general surgery, such as:


  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Clots in the leg
  • Veins travelling to lungs
  • Injury to bowel or conversion to an open procedure.


More specific risks linked to gall bladder surgery include the rare risk of injury to the main channel (common bile duct) or passage of stones during surgery leading to postoperative jaundice and pancreatitis.


How does the removal of the gallbladder affect digestion and overall health?


The gall bladder, like the tonsils and appendix, has a limited role and the body can function without them. Following the removal of the bile reservoir, bile continues to flow from the liver through the common bile duct to the bowel throughout the day. This may result in loose bowel movements during the initial weeks until the body adapts to the change.


Generally, the body’s digestive capacity is diminished after surgery, therefore, it is best to avoid heavy meals and foods rich in fat.





If you would like to book a consultation with Dr Hamouda, do not hesitate to do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile today.

By Mr Ahmed Hamouda

Mr Ahmed Hamouda is a highly respected consultant upper GI and bariatric surgeon based in Kent. He is renowned for his expertise in bariatric surgery, as well as gallbladder and abdominal hernia surgery. He also specialises in reflux surgery and balloon endoscopy procedures.

Mr Hamouda qualified in medicine at Ain Shams University, Egypt in 1992 before pursuing further training within a residency programme in general surgery. He later relocated to the UK to undertake specialty training, including an esteemed year-long laparoscopic biliary fellowship in Glasgow, where he gained invaluable expertise in minimally-invasive cholecystectomy and bile duct exploration procedures. Following the completion of his surgery specialty training, he also completed a six-month advanced bariatric fellowship in a renowned Centre for Excellence in Bariatric Surgery. For over ten years, Mr Hamouda served as an upper GI consultant at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and is now based at Nuffield Health Tunbridge Wells Hospital, where he is an integral part of the bariatric service, bringing with him his wealth of expertise and experience in endoscopic sleeve, gastric band and gastric bypass procedures, amongst many others. He also sees private patients at the KIMS Hospital in Maidstone, the Benenden Hospital in Cranbrook and Sevenoaks Medical Centre.

Throughout his esteemed career, Mr Hamouda has been involved in the education of medical students and his academic excellence earned him a university lectureship post shortly after graduating in medicine. Additionally, he has published a number of academic papers which appear in peer-reviewed journals. He regularly participates in important meetings within his field and is a member of a number of key professional bodies, including the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, the Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons and the European Association of Endoscopic Surgery. He is also director and lead bariatric surgeon at Weight Loss Surgery Kent.

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