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Gallbladder Surgery Errors

Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, also called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is a surgical procedure that removes the gallbladder without having to make a large surgical incision to open the abdominal cavity (known as "open" or conventional surgery). Gallbladder removal surgery is now one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the United States.

More than 90 percent of gallbladder surgeries are now done laparoscopically, in which the surgeon removes the gallbladder through several small incisions in the abdomen. Done correctly, the majority of these surgeries result in the safe removal of the gallbladder. Improperly done laparoscopic surgery can result in devastating consequences for the patient. Some errors result from unskilled doctors attempting to perform the surgery, but even a skilled doctor can cause injuries during the surgery. If the errors are not recognized and treated immediately, they can result in serious injuries or death.

Complications Of Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery

A common mistake in these procedures is accidentally cutting the common bile duct, which empties bile from the liver into the small intestine. If the common bile duct is compromised, bile can leak into the abdomen. Leakage of highly toxic bile can cause devastating complications. The patient may be hospitalized, requiring additional surgery to repair the duct and drain the bile. If the duct cannot be salvaged, the patient may require permanent tubes that drain bile into an external bag.

Another common error is accidental perforation of adjacent organs, often the small bowel (intestine), which can result in dangerous infections (sepsis).

What Is The Gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac that sits below the liver. The function of this small organ is to store and release bile, a digestive fluid that breaks down fats. This process sometimes leads to the formation of gallstones, solidified matter which blocks the flow of bile. The most common remedy for this painful problem is surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Traditional Gallbladder Surgery

The traditional procedure, open cholecystectomy, involves a large incision under the ribs on the right side of the body. The liver is moved aside to access the gallbladder, and the surgeon cuts the blood vessels and ducts and removes the organ through the opening. This invasive procedure requires general anesthesia.

Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery

Most gallbladder surgeries are now performed with this minimally invasive procedure. A small incision is made in the abdomen and a hollow tube called a trocar is inserted. A video camera is then snaked through the trocar, enabling the surgeon to view the abdominal cavity on a TV monitor. More trocars are inserted for the surgical tools. The ducts and vessels are snipped and clipped, and the gallbladder is removed through the incision.

t is imperative that the surgeon correctly identifies each duct and artery to be sure he or she is cutting and clipping the proper structures. Mistakenly cutting, clipping or nicking the common bile duct rather than the cystic duct can lead to serious injury or death. So too can nicking or cutting adjacent organs.

If you or a loved one was injured during the course of a gallbladder surgery, contact an attorney at Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC, to determine if you have a case for medical malpractice. Our lawyers have successfully prosecuted dozens of laparoscopic surgery cases in Michigan. We can be reached by phone at 734-545-8421 or through our convenient online contact form.