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Should I get my gallbladder out?

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For about a year, I've been waking up with severe pain under my ribs in the middle of the night. It only happened every couple of months though so I kept putting off going to the doctor. Well, a couple weeks ago I had 3 attacks in a 2 week time span. The only thing that would relieve it a little is if I would make myself throw up (gross I know.) I finally went to the ER where they did an ultrasound and found one gallstone. They referred me to a surgeon that I met with on Thursday. He listened to my story and said that I need my gall bladder out. He said the stone is pretty big (1.8 cm) and that my whole gallbladder might be filled with a bunch of small stones and the ultrasound just didn't pick it up. He said if there a bunch of small stones one of them could pass into my pancreas and cause pancreatitis. He said changing my diet can only do so much and its only a matter of time until I end up in the ER again in extreme pain that just won't go away and I would need emergency surgery.

I scheduled my surgery for August 1st. They could have done it as soon as Monday but I'm terrified and not sure if I want to get it done. I've been dieting the past week and have felt a little better until today. I'm having some mild pain under my ribs again but nothing too bad.

So my questions are:

A. Is it possible for an ultrasound not to pick up all the gallstones? If so, would it be possible to get and xray or Hida scan to verify that I do have a bunch of other stones?

B. My mom had to get emergency surgery because her gallbladder was so full with stones it was about to burst. Does this mean theres more of a chance of me developing more and more stones as I get older if I don't get surgery?

C. If there are no other stones is one "big" gallstone enough of a reason to get my gallbladder taken out?

TIA Smile
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replied May 16th, 2011
gall stones op......
hi, im going through pretty much the same as you,my surgery is booked for 1st of july 2011. i only have 1 large stone with possible smaller ones,my stone is 2 cm. i control attacks with diet normally,not that ive been watching my diet for months now and ive had no recent attacks.i expect im due another. ive had gall stones for 7 years,thats when i had my 1st scan but they said they were small enough to pass,i never did,well not the 1 obviously,think it just grew over the years.
like you my mom has gallstones but she also watches her diet to control the attacks. i think they offer you surgery if you just have at least 1 large stone,the surgeon said to me that they were offering it to me because the stone is large and because ive had stones for 7 years and the problem is most likly to just reoccur also he said it can be very dangerous to leave it.
im totally scared to death of this op. keyhole and common or not i dont want it. im 32.
ive looked at lots of forums, now im seeing that people are wishing they never had it done as they cant eat fatty foods without running to the toilot,people are now intolorant to dairy n wheat. all sorts.then the ones who say the pains dont go,that you get more stones in your liver. its endless it seems. then people who are obviously getting more frequent attacks than myself in loads of pain they say they are so glad the bladder is gone.
im so lost as to what to do. ive got some chinese medicine thats sposed to shrink n expel the stones,but you apparently cant drink or eat spicey foods when your taking it, and they want me to have it for 2 months. i havnt got 2 months to see if it works as my op is 1st july like i say.
i feel like im just someone in a long list of ops the surgeon gets paid for that day,like i dont really need it, im not ill enough.maybe i should try alternatives or buy more time, wait till im worse. ???? so lost
how do you feel about it ??
i did a silly thing and watched the actual op on youtube.looks quite barbaric.not sure that was a good idea really. ive now discovered that theres lots of blood loss,the bladder is normally attatched to the liver,they put clips in n leave them there forever,bile constantly drips after op into the intestines instead of being regulated. just dont know what to do.xx
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replied May 18th, 2011
I don't know what to do either. Maybe we should both get a second opinion. The only reason they want to take my gallbladder out is because my attacks are becoming more frequent and apparently thats a sign that my gallbladder could become infected. I know theres alot of other tests that can be done so maybe we should both go see another doctor and have them test everything to make sure that we absolutely need this surgery. I've been tempted to watch a video of the surgery but I'm already scared enough as it is lol.
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replied May 18th, 2011
yeah, im thinking maybe we should. how often do you get your attacks ? are they really reaaly bad or a mixture of mild and bad ? i think if mine were more regular n really really bad i would want the surgery more plus i would be worried about the stone getting stuck more.
i dont know how you go about getting a second opinion when your already booked in for an op.need to find out.
can i ask what other symptoms you have at this time ? xx
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replied May 18th, 2011
Lately I've been getting them about every other week. Usually they're pretty bad but sometimes I just get some mild discomfort during the day.

As far as my symptoms go I sometimes get a really full bloated feeling after eating and thats about it. When I get an attack I have pain under my ribs but its more towards the center and sometimes even on the left side and it radiates to my back. It seems lik fatty food doesn't really trigger an attack. My attacks usually happen if I too much and some of my worse attacks happen after I eat alot of vegetables. My worst one happened after I ate a bunch of brocolli and lasted 8 hours. The pain was so bad I couldn't sit still and I had to pace around the house.
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replied May 18th, 2011
Lately I've been getting them about every other week. Usually they're pretty bad but sometimes I just get some mild discomfort during the day.

As far as my symptoms go I sometimes get a really full bloated feeling after eating and thats about it. When I get an attack I have pain under my ribs but its more towards the center and sometimes even on the left side and it radiates to my back. It seems lik fatty food doesn't really trigger an attack. My attacks usually happen if I too much and some of my worse attacks happen after I eat alot of vegetables. My worst one happened after I ate a bunch of brocolli and lasted 8 hours. The pain was so bad I couldn't sit still and I had to pace around the house.
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replied May 21st, 2011
it is different to me, mine are always brought on by eating fatty foods.i do have things that dont agree with me like tomatos or peppers,leeks and onions too.if i eat those though its more a bad tummy rather than anything gall bladder like. if i eat a macies n some fried chips n anything largly dairy then i am sure to have an attack. well, i do sometimes. like i say, not had an attack for ages now, which is why i dont get it, i have a stone that the surgeon says is large enough for an op yet im getting no symptoms at the min n eating whatever.this cant be right.
your pain sounds like mine,i dunno if youve had kids but mine feels like contractions when im having a major attack, it comes in waves of pain that you cannot sit still for and you feel like your gonna die ! moves to your back and lasts hours. feel very bloated with mild attacks,just not right, you just know its your gall bladder though dont you.you get some pain n feel very very uncomfy.
so are you still unsure of what to do ? xx
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replied May 29th, 2011
Hello. After 7 years of diet management and lots of different vitamins I am having mine out next month. I have tried everything and whilst some things helped my pain tolerence has improved so much that I did not know how bad my attacks were until I ended up in hospital with a bad infection and my liver not working.
After 6 weeks of antibiotics that are so strong I am sick everyday I will be able to have it out.
They would not do it at the time as it was so infected and enlarged they said it would be sticking to other organs.
I had no idea it could become so bad.
So from someone who tried to keep their gall bladder I believe its better to have it out now.
I know many older women who had it done years ago and have not had any problems. For me it was more not wanting to be on an operating table however that fear has gone now I have spent so much time in hospital anyway!
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replied May 31st, 2011
hi i am 5 days post op. the surgery isnt bad if done laparoscopic. i also was scared to death about surgery but it is INSTANT RELIEF. just watch what you eat for awhile after, but it was very well worth it. i have staples i go thursday to have those out but im almost back to myself i still can tell its tender but im not going to over do it..i had no stones it was just inflammed and had no idea this caused all my back pain shoulder blade area and lower. i put these pains off on MS and it got so bad went to the doctor,went thru tests,had it out, and a brand new me. im excited no more pain..dont be afraid its well worth the results.. ps...quit watching videos and reading about it on web..it scared me to read some of the bad stories and i almost backed out but glad i didnt....
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replied June 6th, 2011
hi, i am scared of the op, but i know im not ill enough to have it, havnt had a bad attack since xmas, been eating what i want so no diet control, if i was ill enough for this op i would have it but im just not. some of the peeps having it are having attacks every week.i think i'll get a good few years out of my gall bladder yet. i might have a big stone but if it does travel n cause me problems then i will have no choice but to have the gall bladder removed. i dont want to have a choice to be honest.and i dont want to change my life style. im not ill now so why have it done n make myself ill.x
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replied June 7th, 2011
I had my gallbladder removed on Wednesday. I had been having attacks for the last few months, but I ignored them until they got so bad that I went to the ER. My liver enzymes were so high that they admitted me immediately. I was in the hospital for 2 days before the surgery and I spent every waking minute reading about alternatives on the internet. I would have done anything to keep my organs intact!

In the end, I went ahead with the surgery because my gallstone was 2cm and when my gallbladder contracted, the stone was getting pushed into the opening, pressing the bile duct from the liver closed and forcing bile to back up into my liver (hence the high liver values). The thought that the stone could get stuck in the bile duct and cause major problems later was the deciding factor for me.

I questioned everything my Doctor told me, I did my own research and made my own decision, which I am happy about. In the end, it is your decision and you'll need to live with it. If my stone had been small enough to pass through the bile duct, I definitely would not have had the surgery. I would have tried the chinese medicine and dietary changes first.

The surgery itself was not bad at all. When I woke up, I had to ask if it was over already, it felt like an hour of my life just disappeared. Post surgery, I was very sore for the first two days and have been getting better ever since.

I have been taking a lot of supplements (bile salt, plant enzymes, etc) to help me digest food because my biggest fear is long term digestion issues. I have not had one problem. I've eaten ice cream, chicken, cheese, guacamole and more with no issues.
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replied November 14th, 2012
daisies5, can you list specifically which supplements you are taking to help in food digestion? The only one I've seen across the board is bile salts. I'm curious to know what others are out there. Thanks!
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replied June 26th, 2011
i'm still going through hell trying to decide what to do !! i have less than a week to decide.
still no attacks since end of last year,been eating anything n everything, should have had an attack by now really.just keep thinking im not ill enough still.my stone is 2cm, i wish they could just take the stone n not the organ.
the worst thing is ive been getting these chinese herbs to do the flush thing, ive been too scarred to take them incase they actually work to push the stone out n then i get ill from it getting stuck or something. so i havnt even tried taking it. i dont know if it would work or not.and they cost a bomb too.im so in a tizzy about it i need to cancel with the hospital if im not going to have it, cant even bring myself to do that !
so unsure. dont want to make myself ill having this op when i'm not ill now. x
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